Am I the only one out there who struggles with living in the moment? With being where I am? With remaining present in the place I have made ‘home’?
Just a few days ago I realized how much of a struggle this really is for me.
When I was in my early years at university, I wished to be back home. When I was overseas to study abroad, I wished to be back at university. When I was back at university, I wished to be back at University of Cape Town where I had studied abroad. When I graduated and ended up in Santa Barbara, California, I wished to be back on campus or back overseas. When I did move overseas to Cape Town, South Africa, I wished to be back in Santa Barbara. When my visa expired and life changed and I moved back to Santa Barbara, I now find myself wishing quite often to be back in Cape Town again. Clearly I have a problem.
I realize this is a symptom of moving. Forming close relationships and building community with amazing people in each place I end up. Yet, it never gets easy. The grass always seems greener in the place I just left.
What I have conveniently forgotten however, is the amount of time it took to get to that place of close community and close friendships.
The lonely days. The evenings wishing I was close to the friends I had left behind. The awkward conversations and interactions with people I barely knew as I was attempting to make friends and start over - again.
In each place I have ended up, I have gone through a phase of intense longing to be back in the place I have left. To be back with those who were once my community.
Yet, without fail, I have also, with time and persistence, managed to build some incredible friendships with people who have truly altered my life for the better in the places I do end up.
So what does this mean?
Does it mean I have excelled the process of starting over and forming new communities? Probably. It does get easier with practice.
Does this mean that I regret having moved so much in the past few years? No.
Does this mean I am being silly for missing those I have left behind? Absolutely not.
And does this mean these feelings will go away? Unfortunately, no.
What this does mean however, is that I have learned to look at where I am now with a new set of eyes.
I now understand that in the mere 3-ish months that I have lived here in Santa Barbara, I have barely had the time necessary to build a new community.
I’m still in the early and awkward days.
It WILL happen with time. It always does. I just need to be patient.
Relationships and true community take time. They take vulnerability and shared experiences. None of these things happen quickly.
And it is exactly this thought that made me stop and realize - as much as I miss my home in Cape Town, South Africa (trust me, it pulls at my heart strings daily and I will forever be connected to that place) - that I will also make a home and community here.
I just need to allow the time for that to happen.
So now that I have finally acknowledged this, I find myself excited for the future. For the coming relationships and community.
I’ve already had a taste. I have a great church community. I’m part of an active group of beach volleyball players. I’m starting to form routines with people. I’ve been invited to events where I know no one and walked away with new friends. People are slowly becoming more familiar and we are learning to trust one another. And it’s a great feeling.
I am building a community HERE. I am building a home where I am.
And that is ultimately what is important.
Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t miss my family or high school friends out east, or my university friends scattered across the country, or the many friends I made working in tourism spread across the world, or my amazing second family in Cape Town. Rather, I miss them all quite dearly. They will forever be a part of my life and I will continue to strive to stay connected and visit as many of them as possible.
What this does mean however is that I no longer have to live in the past.
Rather I can live with an optimistic outlook for the future. For I know that with the passage of time that I will find the community I so deeply crave.
I will find the shoulders to cry on.
I will find the friends who make me laugh so hard I’m lying on the floor with tears running down my face.
I will find the huggers who know how to make a girl feel safe and loved no matter how rough the day has been.
I will find the adventurers who enjoy weekend journeys of exploration and the unknown.
I will find the dancers and music lovers who will join me in the love of rhythm and beat.
I will find the prayer warriors and spiritual guides to help me grow as I journey with God.
All of these people exist here, just as they existed in other places. It just takes time.
And once this has happened, and I have found my community, Santa Barbara will become the place I will never want to leave. The people will leave me feeling connected and loved and I will know that I am in the right place.
Do you struggle with this as well? Let me know how you have dealt with it in the comments below.