When I turned 11, my parents had a surprise for me: we were going to move to the UK effective immediately. Being someone who grew up on Enid Blyton books, I was ecstatic, thinking that life there would involve pulling pranks on the French teacher, secret midnight feasts and eating fresh baked scones every day. I was bitterly disappointed.
The moment we pulled up to our tiny, two-bedroom flat, I knew that I had seriously misjudged things. I dragged my squeaky suitcase to my cramped bedroom that I was to share with my brother and sat on the bed dejectedly. My house in India was pretty big and I was used to the luxuries of three bathrooms, a bunkbed and a huge garden to while away time in. On the other hand, three of my bedrooms in the UK would have fit into my room in India. The room was so small that if I were to lie down flat on the floor, I could reach the opposite walls with my fingers and the tips of my toes. And I was to share this prison with my brother.
The first three months or so were truly horrible. We moved during winter too, so all I could do was stay cooped up in the house. Everyone in school already knew each other and were in their own little cliques and groups. In those months, I became closer to my family than ever before, all four of us banded together by our loneliness and the cold weather outside.
I really cannot say how I managed to get through those times to where I am today. I don’t have a clear recollection of how it happened, but as spring came and the weather turned, so did my luck. I resolved to step out of my comfort zone and reached out to a group of four other girls in my class who I happened to have a few things in common with. They invited me to sit with them during lunch one afternoon and it became a regular thing. The four of them couldn’t have been more different from me, but somehow, despite our cultural and behavioural gaps, we still managed to get on. And I still consider them as some of my closest friends to this day, nearly four years later.
We moved quite a few more times after that too, some just to a new neighbourhood and others to a new country altogether. And each time, I had problems that I had to go through loneliness, feeling too different, feeling too similar, you name it. But they all just seemed to work themselves out in the end. That isn’t to say that I am perfectly happy right now, but there definitely has been a growth in confidence and contentment within me.
Change is inevitable. You will have gone through it many times and you will in the future. Although it is something that every single person in the world experiences, no one seems to have found a way to deal with it. Holding onto the past does nothing but damage your future. Someday, you’ll look back and wish that you had enjoyed this time more, rather than spent it worrying about how much everything was changing. And change is something that you have to live through; no shortcuts and no way of avoiding it. But here are a few things that may make the journey easier:
1. Keep a couple of constants in your life: As you begin to grow older, you’re going to be surrounded by many variables; x’s and y’s and z’s that keep changing that make you all muddled. So, you need something that will be a rock in the turbulent seas, something that will keep you anchored. For me, it was books. Every time we moved to a new place, I made sure to find my way to the nearest library or bookstore so that every time I felt overwhelmed, I could pick up some of my favourites and forget about my problems for a while. Seeing as I could find the same books everywhere, it made me feel as though everything wasn’t moving too fast and that I could still hold onto my memories from the past.
2. Don’t push your parents away: This is going to seem stupid, but really don’t. Keep them close and talk to them when things become too much. They may have gone through the same things when they were kids and will know how to deal with any changes you may be feeling. And even if they don’t give you good advice, you will feel much better after talking to someone else about your problems. Thoughts have a way of getting into your head and staying there until you get trapped in them, so talking to someone else will give you a good outside view.
3. Hold onto reality: When it was time for me to deal with change, I made the mistake of trying to make it disappear altogether. I tried to ignore everything around me by immersing myself in stories of others. I spent so much time reading and watching things that I began to completely lose track of real life around me. And though this may sound like a good thing, it really wasn’t. It did nothing other than making me depressed and angry whenever I emerged back to the real world and realised that things were not really how I wanted them to be. Don’t lose track of yourself and what you have to deal with.
I hope this helps someone out there, at least one person. I am not claiming to be an expert on change and how you deal with it, but I have had personal experiences to back me up on what I’m saying here. And like I mentioned before, change is a part of life that everyone goes through, especially when you hit your terrible teens. But all you can really do is keep your chin up and keep swimming. Look on the bright side: once you’re through to the other side, you’ll have so many new life lessons and experiences to talk about.