In this issue: Going the distance • In with the new • What’s your song? • In pursuit of happiness • A taste for blooms • When home is everywhere and nowhere • Spheres of wonder • It’s not you, it’s me • Dreams can come true
‘I just want to fit in.’ How often must these words be spoken the world over on any given day? It’s easy to imagine that the desire to belong or, at least, to feel comfortable in one’s own skin while in the company of others, wanes once school is over. But anyone who’s struggled to find their feet in a new job or set up home in an unfamiliar town or country will know the reality is more complicated. Feeling comfortable, making friends or forging connections takes time, effort and even compromise.
That’s partly because people are all so different. Everyone comes with their own beliefs, values, lived experience, expectations and patterns of thinking. It’s what makes the world so great, however it also presents challenges. A change of job, for example, and the prospect of new people and settings, could elicit full-on excitement or total fear. Often it’s a mixture of the two. But for those who fall firmly into the latter camp it can be limiting. Why even apply for that job ad when it’s going to spell weeks of self-doubt followed by (if not disappointment) an extended period of not quite fitting in? So runs the internal commentary anyway.
Yet it’s not uncommon to feel uncomfortable in new places or when surrounded by unfamiliar faces. It’s natural. There’s no need to switchjobs or move to another part of the country to feel awkward either – the thought of joining a yoga class or stepping inside a gym is enough for many. But even the most supple of yogis and toned of gym-goers might harbour doubts about whether they genuinely fit in with the in-crowd.
Few people go through life feeling entirely at ease wherever life takes them. Those who have lived across land borders or experienced cross-cultural childhoods understand this all too well. Equally, however, they recognise the warmth, empathy and learning to be gained along the way. Perhaps part of the solution to becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable lies in recognising, respecting and embracing difference. We won’t always find ourselves among kindred spirits, but we can stay true to ourselves.
Cover Illustration: Jen Leem-Bruggen.