While I was lying in my sleeping bag on the top of a New Zealand mountain, seeing the ice-cold breath steaming out of my nose, hearing the heavy rain beating on the roof of my tent and feeling every single bone in my back through the floor mat I thought “from now on nothing will bother me anymore. I have toughened up and everything will appear much easier from now on”.
Sharing my Lao house with hundreds of cockroaches and having a whole dynasty of spiders the size of my hand living with me- nooooo problem!
After having explained a million times to my hotel staff in Laos that they cannot sleep during their work time, change shifts without telling anyone, leave before the end of their shift, leave for good without prior notice or not show up because of weddings, birthdays, school exams or broken hearts, I said to myself “nothing will ever be able to upset or surprise me in a job anymore after what I experienced here”.
Hopping from one country to another one and then ten more within ten months, constantly being surrounded by different ethics, languages, currencies, cultures, food, traditions and climate I was sure that I had become the master of adaptation.
And in a way I did- at least in many respects.
Then I came back to my home country Austria after having lived abroad for two and a half years….and suddenly I was not able to adapt. Everything seemed estranged and difficult.
Coming back to the place that was the most familiar in every respect but nevertheless felt un-homey knocked me off my tightrope.
It took me many weeks before I had my first few moments at ease. And right then I sailed down a ladder and broke my heel one, equaling 2 months of jumping on one foot on crutches. When the doctor asked me if I was capable of walking on crutches I replied “of course, no problem at all”, but it took me a mere 24 hours to realize that it was very much a problem and that my heavily reduced mobility, flexibility and ability to do the most common everyday tasks made it impossible to a) accept the situation and b) adapt to it. After about 3 weeks I had reached a tipping point. I accepted the situation I was in and just did what I had to do. No asking “but why me but why now but why whywhyyy…”.
Now I can walk again and in less than 48 hours I will be moving to the UK to start my new (professional) path in life – my 4 year course of osteopathy. Am I scared or worried to leave behind a profession that enabled me to live a comfortable life – that i could easily go back to without too much of an effort instead of starting a completely new career path? No.
Am I nervous about moving to a country that doesn’t exactly stand on the top of my wish list and do I wonder if I will be able to adapt to living there? Yes.
So am I capable of adapting? Absolutely. But interestingly it is often the little or unspectacular changes in our lives ( such as coming back home) that are harder to adapt to than the big, spectacular or courageous-seeming changes ( like trekking the jungles of Columbia in 42 Celcius).
I realized that no matter how many big “challenges of adaptation” we have already mastered in our lives and no matter how routined we think we have become- we will still encounter numerous new ones again and again and get shaky legs when we face them.
But it is those situations that make us grow and become more accepting of our environment.