day 6: who do you think you are?

become who you are

There’s a reality to moving to a new city or moving across borders that often gets overlooked. And it’s this: it’s likely that no one knows you where you are moving. Maybe there’s a boss that hired you, or a colleague who recommended you, or you know a friend of a friend who already moved there.

But often we touch down in our new home known by no one. This is a huge opportunity, and one that I think a lot of expats miss.

Of course I’m not wishing on you a lonely friendless life. I hope you start making friends and finding a community to be part of within days of landing. But there’s a freedom that comes with a new start. I get to decide who I introduce myself as.

When I finished school at eighteen, I was so ready to leave. I was counting down the hours until I got on that plane to South Africa. And it wasn’t because I didn’t love my family (I do, mum, don’t panic!). It was because I felt like I had grown out of the person I was at twelve when I started secondary school, but I was still trapped in that outdated perception that my friends had of me.

It’s happened to a greater or lesser extent every time I’ve moved. I’m given a chance to look back over the last few years and see what I liked about my life here, what I want to take with me and continue there. But also, to recognise the areas where I felt I could have been more, where I should have acted differently, where I’d outgrown other people’s perceptions of me.

Moving is a chance to recreate yourself. Do you want to be braver? More outspoken on important issues in work or life? Do you want to volunteer more? Be more hospitable? Would you like to find friends who encourage a side of you that was unrecognised before?

Often I start to doubt my own ability to change – I want to be this kind of person but do I have what it takes? What I’ve realised is, other people will see you as the person you present yourself as. This is a (slightly) more mature version of the fake it till you make it idea. It’s not about being fake, but about giving yourself the chance to become something you know you can be.

Become what you like. Become the thing that makes you proud. Become what inspires you. Become what you dream of. Become the change you want to see. Become who you are.


This post is part of my 31 days to embrace expat life. I’m writing every day through October on this topic. Click on the logo to see all the posts in this series…

Yesterday’s post – Embrace a Simpler Lifestyle.

Photo: Become who you are, by 365Q