With just 3 days to go now until we leave the US for good and head back to the UK, I find myself reflecting on what troubles me most about these transitions and I think I have cracked it! The thing I have noticed the most each time we have moved internationally and shipped our lives several thousand of miles away, is a great sense of loss at some stage in the process.
I spend weeks, even months, dreading the goodbyes (for myself and for the children) and then as we tick them off one by one and as we disconnect ourselves from our carefully carved out lives: canceling memberships, withdrawing the children from school and working our way through a series of ‘lasts’, we slowly, by default, remove ourselves from the community that we worked so hard to become a part of.
I remember the same sense of loss felt when we left the UK for India and then India for the US. The transition time between wrapping up your existence in one place and starting a new in another can be a unsettling time as you hover between two lives. That’s when I feel that sense of loss, a lack of belonging, albeit temporary and it’s made me thankful for those communities I have and will belong to in the future (hopefully) and to recognize the importance for both myself and my family.
As I begin to understand more about the importance of community in my life, it is also helping me to relate that to the communities that I strive to create online. Sure, there are different dynamics at play and other things to take into consideration depending on the context, but we can certainly draw some parallels between these virtual and physical communities and the sense of belonging they can provide. Being part of an environment that offers a place, be it virtually or physically, to be yourself, be accepted, to be heard and to contribute to its success and its outcomes is a community. They will come in many different guises depending on the who, what, where and why of how they came to be formed but my experiences remind me of their importance in life, both physically and now online, whether that be for learning, networking or socially but the difference is, I can take my online community with me wherever I go and I like that!