Identity Crisis Much

The theme of this year for me has got to be ‘Identity.’ I think this is a common issue for expats (I can’t be the only one!) because of our lifestyle. New countries, changing relationship statuses, an ever-revolving cast of characters in our lives, culture shock and homesickness, all of these can really make you question who you are deep down. I’m trying to be really reflective and thoughtful this year, and I just keep coming back to thinking about identity.

As I try to find my place in Hong Kong, I am aware that this process of ‘settling down’ has little to do with the place, and more to do with my own sense of self. With my scenery constantly changing, the only constant is me. I wish I could absolutely depend on myself for comfort and confidence, but it just doesn’t always work like that when struggling with PTSD. Most days I’m fine, I know who I am, I know that I’m recovering and getting better, but then every once in awhile I snap and relapse and start questioning everything all over again.

So I dive into activities that I know to be ‘me': reading mountains of books, reaching out to non-profits for volunteer work, joining a dance studio, keeping up with current events, improving my teaching practice. These things don’t change, regardless of place. It takes awhile to find your footing in a new country and feel like yourself again, I think.

Spending a lot of time reading on this windowsill recently

Do other expats feel like they lose a bit of themselves with every new location? Is it always this emotionally draining? Maybe it’s just me. I'm not talking about a complete personality overhaul, just figuring out who you are in the context of a place.

I'm going to be doing a bit of soul searching on this retreat in April. Yoga and raw food and running barefoot on the beach and avoiding my iPhone and listening to my body; I think it's going to be grand. Baby steps, McK. Baby steps.


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