Monday, August 18, 2008

On Flying Solo

Breakwaters at Cottesloe Beach

I hit my 2 month mark abroad this week, and it's beginning to sink in that this is not a mere vacation ending in a few more weeks but my "real life." As I settle into the routine, sometimes I wonder if by coming here in a bid for change and real independence, I got more "on my own" time than I've actually bargained for.

So far, I've been quite happy to explore my new territory alone, inspired by the beautiful locale and being somewhere completely foreign. I've always been used to doing things on my own and am capable of being quite happy with my own company. Still, I think that I may have reached the limits of my solitude. I am now yearning for the company of the motley crew that populated my life back home more, and it's also sinking in that they are, in geographic terms, completely out of reach - at least for the time being.

Don't get me wrong, it's been a great experience so far. Some people will say it's too early to tell, but I can say with conviction that the decision to come has been a good one. It's shoved me out of my comfort zone and has forced me to come out of my shell by necessity. It's teaching me a lot - about being self-sufficient, not taking myself too seriously, being open to and making the most of new experiences, reaching out and letting new people into my life.

Yes, I have already begun meeting people here and sowing seeds of friendships that will hopefully grow with time. To be honest, I am still quite amazed at how kind people can be to someone struggling to get her bearings in this unfamiliar place full of strangers. I've been pretty lucky in the people I've met here so far.

But I guess I just miss being around people with whom I have a shared history. Being able to hang around with people who know the inside joke without my having to say a word. Even if we all had our busy lives at home, I always know with conviction I could drag any of them out for coffee and a heart-to-heart if I sounded desperate enough.

Part of realizing that this is now where I live rather than somewhere I am just visiting is also realizing that I don't really have anyone here like that. At all.

And sometimes I'm afraid that in my bid for a drastic change in my life and some real independence, I've just traded one kind of loneliness for another.


Panaderos said...

On your last paragraph, I must admit that there is a certain degree of loneliness I feel living in a foreign land. In moments of extreme loneliness, I sometimes wonder if I sold my soul to the devil simply for material gain. To cope, I've made new friends with some very nice people here and in a way, have developed my own "inside jokes" with them as well.

But to paraphrase Robert Frost's famous poem, the woods in our home country were indeed lovely, dark and deep but we have promises to ourselves and to our families that we have to keep. Hang in there. I'm glad to know you've made some new friends there. It's a process of adjustment but I strongly believe you'll be fine.

Manggy said...

I think Panaderos expressed it better than I could have :) I'm not sure if I'm luckier (I'm sure you would disagree) for not really having the desire to be around a motley crew ('cept my family... The original crew). Don't worry, in time, you'll have plenty of Dr. Clairebear crews-- international chapters! lol.

dr_clairebear said...

@panaderos: it's not yet bad enough to make me want to pack my bags and go home, definitely. :) I am seeing this through. it's all part of growing pains, I think.

@manggy: from your keyboard to God's ear! :)

Pinay MegaMom said...

Cheer up Claire! Things can only get better when you're feeling low.

Just think of the many Pinoys who've had to give up more to be in a similar position.

Anyway, I'm sure you already know that whatever doesn't kill you can only make you stronger - spoken like a microbiologist investigating resistance gene patterns, hehehe!

woobie said...

dr.Claire, don't be sad... you know how loneliness is a state of mind right? You are alone, but not lonely. :D

You know the old adage about looking for something and not finding it, and then, just when you give up looking for it, it finds you? I have a feeling this will be soo true in your case.


dr_clairebear said...

@megamom: you're right, i know. i will come out of this a stronger and better person. :) goodthing i have lots of things to keep me busy!

@woobie: again, from your keyboard to God's ear. :) in the meantime, i am going to seriously start on that love affair with myself i've been meaning to have but keep on putting off.

Ann said...

I was just thinking about how so much can happen in two months as I haven't been able to write in that span of time. I guess this is even more true in your case. Sorry I missed the move.

"And sometimes I'm afraid that in my bid for a drastic change in my life and some real independence, I've just traded one kind of loneliness for another."

I've been feeling smothered for most of my life but what you wrote is the exact fear that I have and the reason I'm reconsidering my plans of doing my residency in another country. I have the feeling I'll be using that quote again.

It's too soon to say but I'm hoping it'll all be worth it for you.

dr_clairebear said...

@ann: i'm not going to lie to you - being on your own, specially if you come from a generally close-knit over-involved support system (family and friends) can get pretty lonely. but don't let fear hold you back from pursuing what you really want.

it's too early to tell what my long term plans are, but despite the loneliness i can already say that coming here has been worth it - if only for the fact that it's taught me that i can be on my own.

good luck on your plans as well - keep me posted! :) don't think about it too hard at this point, things often have a way of changing as you go through medical school. i'm sure that it will all work out well for you, no matter what you decide.