The Risk of Change

October 8, 2011 — Leave a comment

Change has been a constant companion that has given me a kaleidoscope of countries, cultures and colours for my life’s tapestry. As with any companion change has sometimes provoked an uneasy alliance.

Resistance, occasionally an underestimated force, is an immediate and natural response to change. Each change requires a slight shift in thinking, a slight alteration of beliefs and often a seismic change of attitude, all of which can feel most uncomfortable.

JFK said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” But sometimes we need to remember to enjoy the present, it is after all over in a flicker.

Founder of Global Nomads International, and tireless promoter of TCKs, Norma McCaig, coined the expression ‘global nomad’ and defined it as those who have spent their formative years in a country not their own. Now based in Houston, I am a global nomad who thrives on change. My nomadic life started at the age of one month, and in the fifty or so years since have lived in twelve countries. With each transition my acceptance and understanding of the world has grown to encompass a little of everywhere I have lived.

To some I may appear a melange of beliefs, a tapestry of sometimes discordant colours. A cultural chameleon – never entirely convinced of any one idea or opinion but comfortable in any environment. Each new culture exposed to has left little atoms that have taken root in my psyche. I am of nowhere and yet I feel part of everywhere I have called home.

Home for me is a concept; a state of mind made up of memories rather than bricks and mortar. My roots are reflected in my ability to blend into new cultures whilst retaining an element uniquely my own.

But whatever the change the emotional cycle stays the same. Five phases that traverse a path from uninformed optimism at the beginning to success at the end. The path is rarely smooth and travels through a reality phase to either determination and commitment or sadly, giving up; depending upon that third stage the path can move onto informed optimism. Change of any kind isn’t easy but it can be exhilarating and breathe new energy into the tapestry that is our life.

Everyone has their own tools to help them transition. I use the RISK factor. If I ensure I have knowledge of where I am going I can handle the roots, identity and sanity issues of that RISK. The roots, where am I from? The identity, who am I? The sanity, why on earth am I doing this again?

Knowledge is, I believe, key to an ultimately successful transition be it international or local. Learning the local mores and customs, the history and the politics all go to easing myself into a new environment. Acceptance both from the host country’s perspective and yours can take a while. Adaptation doesn’t always come easily, but with knowledge cultural and behavioural differences become easier to understand.

Helping me with the RISK factor is ETHEL. She has travelled with me in my hand luggage for many years, along with my toothbrush and a spare pair of knickers. ETHEL serves to remind me of Energy, Tact, Help, Empathy and Learning, all useful tools in my relocation arsenal.

Change has been the cornerstone around which my tapestry has been woven. The ability to embrace change is one of the greatest lessons learned from my parents and one hopefully I have passed on to my children. They too are global nomads who risk change.

No Comments

Be the first to start the conversation!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s