There are currently thousands of people relocating from the mainland to our beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Many of them have become Pravan members, and we have noticed how challenging the relocation process can be. Some people are doing better than others, so we decided to put together this blog in order to give some perspective for those going through this process.
Relocating can be one of the most exhilarating decisions you ever make. Few things are more mentally and physically challenging than packing your belongings and moving to a new place. You are leaving the comfort of the familiar to engage in a new environment with its own culture and history. As you prepared for all the tearful farewells, the thrill of this new adventure was always in the background. Even as you bid your old home goodbye, you felt the rush of possibility and new beginnings. However, once the initial excitement of living in a new city wears off, gnawing feelings of doubt, uncertainty, loneliness and all the stress that come with moving can start to creep in. You might get lost trying to find your way to the supermarket or you might have difficulties communicating with an important vendor. You might find yourself really missing your favorite coffee shop and long lunches with friends. You planned every aspect of your move, except for this. Let’s talk about what to expect once you start settling into your new life.
You'll feel homesick.
Humans are instinctively driven to form connections with places. “To be rooted,” the philosopher Simone Weil wrote, “is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” Therefore, it is natural to feel untethered when you move to a country that might be vastly different than what you’ve known. This new place might seem disorienting at first with its different tastes, smells, and sounds. The day might unfold differently and the routines which have given order to your life might not fit anymore.
It’s ok to acknowledge that you miss home. It’s also important to remember that home is more than a geographical location, it is the sense of belonging and security you felt there. While it might be tempting to stay in, scrolling through photos of your old life, please resist the urge. Go out and explore your new city, walk around the neighborhoods, and find new routines. Remember the activities you participated in and find ways to engage in them here. Find a yoga studio, gym, or volunteer for a cause that is meaningful to you. This will help you create attachments, form new relationships, and put down roots.
You’ll become familiar with vulnerability.
Anyone who takes risks and starts to paint outside the lines knows what it is to be vulnerable. Making a move to a different country certainly falls under the “risky” category. Melody Warncik wrote, “Abruptly you’ve gone from being known to being no one. Moving to a new place can make you feel as if you’ve lost your very self.” You’ve gone from being an insider that knows everyone to facing the loneliness of not knowing who to call if you want to go grab a bite to eat.
Turns out, going on a big adventure, is not simply about being confident, it’s about letting yourself be vulnerable. It means going beyond your comfort zone and not playing it safe. It means letting yourself be seen, just as you are. So strike up a conversation with a neighbor, accept and extend social invitations, set-up that playdate with your kids. Don’t let the fear of opening up keep you from the transformative power of vulnerability. The upside? Being vulnerable opens you up to new possibilities, bigger ideas, and deeper connections with others and yourself.
You’ll realize you didn’t lose your baggage.
You have unpacked all your belongings, filled your walls with art, and created the perfect reading nook. You are enjoying long walks in Old San Juan, exploring its cobblestone streets, and having cocktails by the beach. Everything should be perfect, except it isn’t.
Eventually, the initial excitement of being somewhere new fades and you’ll find you are left with all the problems you thought you moved away from and new ones that come along with leaving home.
The problems or situations you were already dealing with don't simply go away just because you went away. That is a hard truth. Yes, it’s definitely tempting to believe that a change of scenery will solve your problems, but life doesn't really work that way. Still, while changing settings doesn't make your problems magically go away, it can give you fresh perspective to see these issues in a new light. A new setting might help you notice and break old patterns and push you to engage in different behaviors. You might realize that the dissatisfaction or unrest you’ve felt with any area of your life is not tied to a specific place but perhaps to something greater. Big changes can serve to bring clarity to your life. This clarity can lead you to a stronger, more authentic version of yourself.
Be honest about how you feel and seek help as needed.
Emotions bring us information and direct us to what needs attention in our lives. Acknowledging the rollercoaster of emotions that can accompany a relocation or other major life change is an important step to help you build a meaningful life. You don’t have to pretend that everything is ok, if it really isn’t. Being honest with yourself empowers you to seek support as you navigate your new surroundings.
How Pravan can help
As part of our holistic healthcare model, at Pravan Clinic we have recently developed a mental health program which includes an in-house clinical psychologist and a network of mental health professionals designed to support you.
Therapy can help you adjust to major life transitions, allowing you space to process this experience. Furthermore, a therapist can partner with you in creating a plan aimed at helping you cope with the stresses of relocation and the impact it can have on your relationships, your work, and overall well being. Let’s work together to help you explore the beauty and possibility of your new life.