It’s been nearly two years since I last wrote a post on this blog. So long that I started to forget what an important outlet blogging here was for me for years. The last post I wrote explained why I hadn’t been posting, and probably wouldn’t for a while – a combination of being busy with my studies and with finishing up my book for publication, plus the fact that I didn’t feel the need for the outlet so much anymore.
Recently I’ve been feeling in desperate need of outlets, and through a whatsapp conversation with a friend this weekend I remembered how writing used to be that for me. I realised I hadn’t written anything just for me in a long time. I’ve written a number of guest posts for other blogs in the past two years, including:
- Parallel Lives: TCKs, Parents, and the Culture Gap
- Growing Up With Migraines
- When Home-Schooled TCKs Feel Lonely – and How You Can Help
- Patriotism and TCKs
- Making home an emotional oasis for your TCKs
- The Classroom of Diversity
- Should You Raise Your Kids Abroad?
Most, you’ll notice, relate to my work with TCKs. Only two have an element of personal story. Then there are posts I’ve written for my book’s website, like these:
- What is a Third Culture Kid?
- Living in between countries
- An international Olympic experience
- Why I hope you destroy my book
- The unending season of transition
- The problem of picking prestigious universities
- My visit to the International School of Tanganyika in Dar es Salaam
- Graduation season
- Homesickness, and the price we pay to be expats
A few of these have a personal element to them, most notably the one about all my transitions in the past year. But again, it’s mostly TCK stuff. The bottom line: writing has become work. Work I enjoy, for sure! But it’s a different kind of writing. In these contexts I write to communicate information, or present an argument. I write on topics I’m really passionate about, communicating information I believe is really important. That’s something I enjoy! But it’s not a personal outlet.
While I was in Australia that wasn’t really a problem. I had so many other methods of relaxation – going for a drive, walking to the park, going to the beach, reading in a favourite café, playing the common room’s piano, hanging out with one of the dozens of lovely people I lived on campus with.
A big struggle for me since returning to Beijing is that I’ve lost all those outlets – the ways I relax, calm my worries, soothe my restlessness. When I get stressed about something the overthinking circles around and around in my head without a way out.
I’ve been struggling to identify new outlets – to find ways to relax that fit in my new life. One thing I’ve done is return to my cross stitch, which I virtually ignored during my three years of study. I’ve also been reading for pleasure, another thing that disappeared during my studies. (My husband has a huge collection of great books so I’ll probably never run out of things to read – by the time I finish what he already has he’ll have more!!)
These are restful and relaxing, but they’re also a bit disconnected from life outside my head. And especially in times of transition I desperately need to feel a sense of connection! Thanks to some excellent questions from my friend, I began to remember what blogging used to be for me – an outlet, a motivation to connect with my environment and process my experiences. I’ve realised that returning to personal blogging may be exactly what I need right now. I need to connect with my new world, and hopefully making a routine of blogging will help motivate me to do that.
Shortly after my return to Australia I started an instagram account and tried to post one photo a day. I wanted to capture little things, little moments, that were encouraging or gave me something to be grateful for. It was a discipline to help me connect with my environment – a prompt to look around, to look for beauty, to look for good moments even on bad days. Over the past few years I’ve found this very helpful, especially in transition seasons. I’ve found that a few days without a post is usually a sign that I’m struggling – that I’m feeling disconnected.
Blogging has been in the past, and I hope will be again, a very similar thing for me. A discipline that reminds me to connect – to look around, to notice, to appreciate. To focus on small details. To tell small stories about real life. I used to write those sorts of small stories about my life in China. I think it’s time to start telling them again.
I’m nervous to publish this post. To put it out there. To say that I’m going to do this. What if I can’t manage the discipline? What if I don’t know how to notice and write these sorts of stories any more? See? Overthinking. I’m so good at it. But I know I need this, and telling you that I’m going to do it is a first step toward putting that knowledge into practice.
So – I guess I’m back!