On the move

On the move

Chantelle Efird, Writer

As someone who never knew what to say when asked “where are you from?”, I can relate to others who had to deal with moving as a child. Throughout my life, I have moved numerous times; either houses, provinces or countries. I have never known where the next year would take me as I may have to move once again. I started to no longer fear the unknown as over the years I’ve learned to cope with the uncertainty. Over the years, I have been able to adapt to any new situations that may occur. Although while moving so consistently, I started to get bored with familiarity and would look for something new. I’ve always looked for the next step, the next move, the next new thing since that’s what I’ve gotten used to and have become uncomfortable when there’s nothing to look towards.

Over time, I have been able to stop caring as much about what others may think of me, as they are just a small portion of my life and I may not ever see them again after the year is up. This means that I have been able to ignore any relationship conflicts due to the fact that by the end of the year, I could just say goodbye and be on with my life. I found difficulty in depending on others, opening up to them and trusting them, as I have learnt they weren’t going to be permanent and I just thought to myself “what’s the point”. I have become untrusting and weary in so-called permanent relationships since in the past, I have been betrayed by people with those roles who promised the same things. I never listened when people promised me anything, as I knew it was unlikely for it to happen.

As a young girl, all my friends would talk about going to high school together, graduating together, and moving in with each other in the future. I just smiled and nodded when I knew the reality was that it would never happen since I’d be moving in a year or two. Packing up and leaving no longer affected me as I always had one foot out the door and a few boxes still taped up in cardboard boxes waiting for the next house. It became standard to pile my entire life into these boxes and to say the standard goodbyes with promises to keep in touch.

I have noticed that moving often as a child could affect you in many ways either positively or negatively.  Moving houses, countries, and schools puts a lot of stress onto a child. I had a difficult time making friends as a shy introvert, who was always known as the new girl without a name. I always found myself getting into the wrong crowd that would only prevent me from learning in school and becoming social. These kids were nice and didn’t do anything wrong, but they held me down so I was like them and didn’t learn to become my own person. My friends who needed help got all the attention from our teachers, leaving me to have no one to go to for help as they were always busy. 

I have never formed any good relationships with teachers or students during elementary or middle school since I’d only been there for a short time, therefore I could never feel comfortable enough to come out of my shell. It is known that moving often as a child can affect your emotional well being and your school performance. I can tell that I have been affected in these ways as a child, since I have not had any constant person I could vent or talk to besides my family. Without having the extra attention from teachers, friends or even parents it is likely a child will start acting out, suffer mental illnesses, keep to themselves, as well as suffer from violence, substance abuse or suicide. It’s difficult to know what to do when you’re so used to being on your own so you start acting out. My mental health has definitely suffered from moving, as my anxiety had gotten to the point that I started taking medication. Additionally, I have suffered from depression because of all the constant moving. 

On the positive side of moving, I have been able to learn a lot and experience more than the average person my age. I have learned how to adapt to different situations throughout my life, from language barriers, new foods, climate, schooling, and people. Everywhere I went there was something different or new to past places I’ve lived in. Although I was a very shy child who had a difficult time making friends, through all the time and moving I have become a little more extroverted after every new scenery. Moving can make even the shyest people come out of their shell as they are forced to in order to make better relationships, this can be a difficult task but in the long run, can help.

I have found that I can find common ground with others quite easily and   it’s more likely for me to find something to talk about with a stranger. I have experienced a lot, which may be uncommon amongst people around my age. For example, I have lived in Mexico, therefore, I have moved countries, and lived in a country where I didn’t know their first language. Also, I have been on a bus with a hole in the floor and so much more. With all of these experiences, it can become easy to strike up a conversation with anyone. I am now a very open-minded person who treats everyone the same despite opposite opinions. 

Due to keeping my life in boxes, I am always decluttering my life to make sure that for the next move, I can just pack up everything without going through my belongings. I have been able to cut down on waste in order to have a fresh start without too much hassle. I also don’t have much trouble with holding on to silly objects that hold sentimental value to me as I only can have so many that I bring during every move.

Friends were always difficult to make at the beginning. Now I know that the friends I have are so much more special and important to me as they have stuck with me over all these years and moves despite the distance. Most friends I’ve made would promise to text and call but never would, except for those that I hold dear to my heart. I also know that if I ever go back to the places I lived in that I would always have a friend or two that I could visit. It’s nice to know that even if you’re not as close with them as you used to be they are still there when you come back.

I have a greater understanding and appreciation in life due to learning about a new culture. I have a deep appreciation of the places I have been able to live in, I was able to experience so many unique activities and events that I could never forget. I have learned a lot by paying attention to my surroundings; how people get around, cook, have fun, and learn. There was a lot of adventure in my childhood which I believe has shaped me into who I am today; getting stung by a jellyfish, spray painting the underside of a bridge, quading, ice fishing, working, visiting churches, hearing stories, going to camp, and taking the bus. Every little event in my life has made me into who I am.