Telling friends and family in the UK didn’t go as planned. In fact, I was surprised as to how some people took the news, which broadly fell into four categories.
Category One: People that were genuinely happy for us. This was the reaction I was expecting the most. Some friends, family and colleagues were happy for us and completely and genuinely enjoyed the moment with us. They asked questions, suggested ways to make the transition for the children easier, suggested a removal company etc. They really got on board with our excitement. It made me feel comforted to know I had surrounded myself with positive and supportive people that wanted the best for me and my family.
Category Two: People that highlighted the ‘negative’ things about Australia or before anything else, tell you that ‘they would never move there’ or ‘that type of thing is not for them‘ even before they said congratulations. Oh and then there were the fake smiles and catching people staring at me, then giving the side smile when I caught their eye. A very weird response, I thought, to someone sharing life-changing news, but who knows what they were thinking?
They were weird situations and ones that left me not sure of what to say or how to think. My default setting when someone tells me something they are clearly happy and excited about is to share in that emotion with them and to encourage them to live their dream, to build them up and enhance their happiness as much as possible. Not say things that could detract from how happy they were. It was not like I was asking them to come with me, it was not like I was showing off or giving off any negative vibes; or none that I was aware of anyway. This was probably why I was surprised most by this reaction. I shared something life changing with people I thought were close to me and would support me and my family and be happy for us. It made me reflect on the relationships I had developed with these people and made me think about how I framed future interactions. I am 100% myself with everyone all the time, sometimes this is received well and sometimes it is not. So it was really hard for me to have to think about amending my interactions with people, as these comments gave me complete negative vibes and I am not the type of person that surrounds myself with negativity. I typically have two reactions to people who bring negativity to my life (1) is to have it out directly with them and tackle the issue head-on FIGHT or (2) cut them off and disengage with them as much as possible ‘FLIGHT’, so their negative energy goes elsewhere. With people I love, truly and deeply it can be difficult to do either of these, so I often find myself in limbo, not sure of the best response. I always want to be authentic and not let how someone treats dictate how I treat them, so I usually end up not addressing the issue and thinking of it as their issue and one that they need to work through, whilst continuing to be a positive force in their life.
I think I sometimes have unrealistic expectations of people and this sometimes leads to disappointment. To this day, nearly 37 years on earth and I still struggle to understand why people just can not be happy for one another. Or why people feel that someone else doing something positive means they are not.
‘A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.”
I wish people could be more like flowers.
Category Three was people that were sad or surprised. The sad part I totally get, my best friends were sad and expressed clearly their feelings of sadness as we had been best friends since we were 13 years old. But at the same time, they were so happy for us and really joined us in our happiness. We started thinking of creative ways of staying in touch and where we could all go on holiday that was halfway between the UK and Australia. We started working out time schedules for us to face time and planned on sending each other seasonal boxes. We agreed that we would stay life long friends and to always stay in touch.
The surprised part was unexpected but on reflection it was understandable. At first, I wondered why people were surprised as we had not kept our plans a secret; then I realised that we had been talking about it for so many years that people probably wondered if it would ever happen. I can understand this because at times I often wondered the same thing.
Category Four: were the people that distanced themselves from us once we had told them the news. Again, this was a weird response and an unexpected one. There were two people specifically that distanced themselves from us during the four months before we left. I don’t think these people knew how to handle the situation, they were both people I was extremely close to and both male. Without getting into the male v’s female debate, I can not help but think they just did not know how to cope with the impending change and the emotions that gave them. When we did speak prior to our departure, they were engaging and their usual selves but were no forthcoming with communication like they had usually been. One of these people specifically would call and text multiple times a day EVERYDAY. Sometimes it was too much, but that’s probably why in the last four months I felt their distance the most. Hopefully, it is is just a matter of time and they will be more engaging and even visit us in Australia.
Then there was my dad, bless him. He is in his 70’s and such an active and independent person, always down his allotment, hanging out with his friends, drinking rum and playing dominos. I still think he is in his 50’s when I look at him. He was sad when we told him our plans around 2 years ago and I think like most people did not think it would actually happen as it was taking such a long time. When we told him the visas had been granted, he was clearly sad but 100% supportive and said that he fully understood why we were making the move and gave us his blessing. He shared with us his experience of moving to England from Jamaica and said that he now understood how his mum felt. My dad has always been a little held back with his emotions, but over the last 10 years we had become extremely close, I think my mum passing away when I was pregnant with my son in 2009 made me really realise that life is so short and that tomorrow is not guaranteed. It really made me take stock of the relationships I have and to make sure I make the time to invest and nurture these relationships.
Talking of my mum, she was my best friend, my complete life. She was disabled and growing up I took on a lot of responsibilities, including personal care and more importantly the role of best friend and support. There was no way I could have made the move to Australia and have left her behind. My heart just would not have let me do it. My husband then reminded me that…
Sometimes god uses your deepest pain as the launching pad of your greatest calling
Overall, most of the reactions were positive and supportive and added to our excitement, I know mum would be so proud of us and what we have achieved. She would always tell me that I was ‘different’ that since being a child I had always danced to my own beat and I am starting to think that she was right. I suppose that is partially due to me being the youngest of 5 children, with four older brothers, so I had to dance to my own beat and colour outside the lines to leave my mark.
At the end of the day, we remind ourselves that we have to do what ‘Makes our souls smile’ and moving to Australia will help us live our best life! We are doing this for us, for our daughter, our son, our family opportunities and well-being.
If you want something, go get it!
Peace, Love and Happiness
The Jalloh Family