16th September 2014

Navigating the New Girl Era

Surely you’ve had that dream where you’re falling off the cliff? What about the one when you’re at the end of the aisle on your wedding day and completely unprepared. How about the one when you go to scream and nothing comes out?

What if I told you that these have all happened to moi in real life, kinda. Well, in the form of something called ‘the new girl’. Although these aren’t literal scenarios that have played out before my very own eyes, after moving to a new country, I did feel like I fell of the cliff, was dropped into a completely new country, most definitely under prepared for reality and when missing home became too much all I wanted was a pair of red sparkly shoes that with a click of my heels would transport me back to sunny Florida, except nothing happened and it was as if no one heard my tears. Sigh.

the new girl

This past month marks two years since I settled and officially set up home in the UK, as a newlywed, and as a girl that had never really been much outside of her hometown. Sure I visited my fair share of the States, been on a mission trip to Mexico, and packed up a few things and moved into a dorm for a short stint while at university. But I never had to fully pack up everything I had ever known and transplant myself in an entirely new way of life until this time those two beautiful years ago.

As I sit here and jot down my thoughts I’m so thankful for the wonderful people that have helped me settle in. There are those that still translate this same, yet different language, those that have let me weep when my homesickness got the best of me and those who continually help me settle into my home in the UK. I’ve truly been blessed with a great circle of friends, neighbors and family and for that I’m so thankful.

However the ‘the new girl’ stigma was inevitable and from what I can gather from others who have moved from far away places, it’s almost like a rite of passage. You can’t go over, under, or around it you’ve just got to pull up those big girl pants and go straight in to the very thick of it.

Oh the new girl. If I had the wit of Jess Day it probably would’ve eased the sting, maybe. I can look back and laugh at the moments that I mistakenly used a curse word as an adjective because I thought that’s what it was. The time that I learned ‘baps’ wasn’t just a northern slag for bread. Or the time that I sent around a ‘happy hump day’ email to my colleagues and to got a glance over the computer of complete uncertainty because apparently hump day doesn’t translate as ‘happy half way through the week’ day. Sigh.

I bring you all of that to tell you this. It does get better. You are new now but there will be plenty of others passing through that will make your new look like you’ve lived here for years. In fact, I was with a group of ‘Brits’ just the other day and I was the one to give someone directions. While doing so I may or may not have called the ‘motorway’ the ‘interstate’, but still, it’s a sure sign of progress.

Here are a few tips to see your way through the new girl era. 

1. Just say yes. When someone asks you for a coffee, to tag along to an event, whatever the situation – just say yes. You will probably feel like going home, cuddling on the couch in your pjs, popping in Friends, Facetiming those that are familiar and declining the offer, but by saying yes you position yourself to meet others. Sure it might be a little awkward at first, but I can still remember that the times I did say yes, I felt better for it.

2. Get involved and start sowing your seeds. It’s oh-so important when moving somewhere new to find places to get plugged in; be it a church, civic group, charity or networking circles. This will not only start to fill those empty pages in your calendar but it’s a way to meet a variety of people.

3. See this as an amazing opportunity. A lot of times changing my perspective can turn my doom + gloom into something amazing. Embrace this time and see it as a way to start a fresh, view this season as a blank canvas with endless possibility. Moving to a new city, state, or country can open up new doors and be the closing chapter to others.

4. The grass isn’t always greener. This is a biggie. Social media can be a double edge sword, while it’s a fantastic tool to keep in touch with family and friends, it can be the very thing that triggers that urge to hop on a plane and go back. There have been many times I’ve glanced, and by glanced I mean stalked, Facebook to see how life there is going. What is everyone up to? What am I missing out on? But then I’m quickly reminded that life ‘over there’ isn’t always roses. The ‘over there’ life may seem amazing but there’s still struggles, still challenges, and sun burns! It’s so important to remember that the grass isn’t as green where you were, although every ounce of you might be convinced that it was. The more you dwell on ‘what was’ will keep you from appreciating and trying to enjoy the place you are.

Now that I’ve passed my ‘Life in the UK’ test, I’m preparing to send off my visa application again for the last and final time. I swear they keep testing me to see if I can give them a reason to send me back. As I reflect over my time here so far I can see how much I have grown and how much moving and being completely taken out of my comfort zone has shaped me. I can also appreciate that the journey is just beginning, that there is still so much to fulfill here and that the Lord is doing a sweet work in my life.

My encouragement to you, wherever you might be, is to enjoy the season that you are in. Just when you want to throw your hands up in complete distress is possibly the moment before everything will soon become so clear.

One last thing, please don’t let this fool you into thinking that I’ve got it all together and everything is rosy pink every day, because it’s not. It’s life, it’s taking the good with the bad and then giving myself an attitude check when need be. The beauty of this space is that we are in it together to encourage, uplift and inspire. I’d love to know what’s on your heart today?