The Real Expat: Finding Your Anchor and True Belonging |

The Real Expat: Finding Your Anchor and True Belonging

When moving abroad we need to re-establish our lives and make an unfamiliar town or country our home.

Posted on

24 March 2018

Last updated on 27 March 2018
The Real Expat: Finding Your Anchor and True Belonging

One of the struggles of moving to a new city, country, or continent is the issue of belonging. In your new location, you need to find new places where you can feel comfortable and accepted as yourself. Some locations it may happen easily, other places you may need to work to find a place where you fit in.

One of my places I look to feel a sense of belonging is my yoga studio. As soon as we moved to our new city which was a small college town, I began the search. It seemed like it would be a fairly simple task: there were about 5 yoga studios within a few miles of my home. However, I became discouraged very quickly. These yoga studios weren’t what I was looking for. They didn’t have the intensity of my last practice, nor did it leave me feeling inspired; they didn’t feel like home. As I tried more yoga studios further and further from my house I began to doubt myself. Was I being too picky? A snob? Did I need to sacrifice what I wanted? Should I try a different style of yoga?

The Real Expat: Finding Your Anchor and True Belonging

Two months into our new city I was beginning to feel desperate. Outside of my home I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. In fact, I was feeling the opposite - invisible. Yoga has always been the activity that grounded and re-centered me. Without my yoga practice and a place where I felt I belonged I was feeling lost.

I tried another yoga studio even further from home. As, I set up my yoga mat and admired the studio’s funky style I tried not get too excited. Then the instructor, who happened to be the owner came over to introduce herself and proceeded to introduce me to another teacher in the class. Another yogi set up their mat beside me and started a conversation with me. I was beginning to feel not so invisible anymore.

The class, started and as the yoga instructor began the class with her story, I was sold. I had found my home. At this moment, we were only in our first pose, I didn’t have any evidence that the class would have the intensity that I wanted, but I knew it wasn’t going to be another generic yoga class. My eyes began to tear up, I belonged here, this was what I had been searching for. As it turned out it was the hardest class I had been to since I left my old studio. It took me 40 minutes on the highway to get to this yoga studio, but I knew I would be back.

The Real Expat: Finding Your Anchor and True Belonging

It seems like such a simple thing to find a yoga studio where you belong, however, it felt huge in that moment. One of the reasons why it felt like such a big gain was because I had doubted myself. I had doubted what I liked and wanted in the attempt to blend in to what was popular here. In Brene Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness, she discusses what true belonging means. She says as humans we all have a desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves, however another part of belonging is being authentic to ourselves which sometimes means standing alone. I found a home at this yoga studio however, I knew I would be alone to many when I explained that I drive 40 minutes to practice yoga. The feeling of being at home was worth it to me.

In the transited expat lifestyle, we are faced with the challenging of constantly feeling like outsiders. We have to search for those places that anchor us in our authentic selves. This yoga studio is my anchor. Have you found your anchor yet?