It’s a year since I set up ‘Making Here Home’ and started writing this blog. But making changes is never easy; there was a full year before that where I just thought about it, but was too scared to try.
What happened between that first year of thinking and worrying and the second of doing?
I found my cheerleaders.
No, they are not dressed in micro skirts with pigtails à la Toni Basil (hope I’m not the only one old enough to remember ‘Hey Mickey’? ) but I bet they could rock a routine if they were asked to. As long as there was minimal jumping around (you know how it is post kids…). Ok, so maybe not a cheerleader routine, but they’d be fabulous at shaking pom-poms and chanting…
These are the people who, when I tentatively talked about setting up a website, responded with an emphatic ‘Go for it!’ The people who have encouraged and supported and cheered me on.
Making changes is not something that comes easily to most of us. From giving up smoking to losing weight to getting ourselves out of a career rut…whole industries are based around helping people to change. If it were easy we’d just, you know, do it.
Whenever we are making changes in our lives – whether it’s a move overseas, or a change of career, or embarking on a challenging project – we need our cheerleaders. Because when we embark on any change, we are often wracked with self-doubt or worry. Fear of failure. Imposter syndrome.
So it is at these points in our lives that we need positivity. Surround yourself with radiators, not drains.
Who are the cheerleaders in your life?
I have one friend who is endlessly positive. Whenever I come up against a problem, she sees the upside. I have another whose view on life makes me see things from a different perspective. Another who is practical and questions me on the details (not always my strong suit…) and yet another who seems to be able to sense how I am feeling as soon as I have walked into a room.
These people are my cheerleaders. These are the ones who have encouraged me and stopped me falling down the rabbit hole of self-doubt.
I come away from spending time with them and I feel good about things – and good about myself. But it’s not all Pollyanna-ness. These are the people who will also tell me if I am off track, or if I have spinach in my teeth, or if my new ‘all natural’ deodorant isn’t quite working…
The cheerleaders in your life are the ones who have your back. They share in your success as well as commiserating when things go wrong. And if things go off track, they’ll help you get back on it.
Be a cheerleader
This is a reciprocal relationship…if someone is cheering you on, you can’t walk away when their big game is on. You are needed! Wherever we are living and whatever stage we are in our lives, we all need positive people.
But when we are living overseas and away from the stability of family and long-term friends, well you need to find your radiators and you need them on full blast.
One of the joys of being an expat is seeing so many women embark on new projects, careers and life changes. Like my friend who is doing her MBA, or the one who has kick started a teaching career. Or the one who has just had a knock-your-socks-off brilliant business idea.
Because we often end up with defunct or unworkable careers, many of us end up grappling with the ‘What am I going to do with my life!’ angst. The NY Times published an article recently on dealing with this question. And one of the suggestions was to get your own ‘board of directors’. Four or five friends you can really trust. These are your sounding board, your safe space for testing ideas and working things through. These are your cheerleaders.
I couldn’t have made the changes I have made on my own. Sure, I have physically done them alone (typing is definitely a solo activity), but I have absolutely treasured the support, encouragement and engagement I have had along the way.
Three cheers for the cheerleaders!
Support, encouragement and engagement can come in many forms…not least online. Every comment I have received over the past year has meant a lot to me – that you have taken the time to read and feedback is the equivalent of doing a massive cheerleading chant!
So three cheers to all you cheerleaders out there. There is room for all of us to succeed, and if we encourage each other then a success for one is a success for all.