my expat anniversary

It seems that when people think of health and wellness, they automatically go to eating healthy foods, being physically active, or looking a certain way. Our mental and emotional health is often over looked or put on the back burner, even though those two aspects really dictate our overall physical health and well-being. The reason I am focusing on this today is because four years ago I entered into a world of unknowns that really put my mental and emotional health to the test. On September 27, 2015 I boarded a plane to Stockholm, Sweden to join my then boyfriend, now husband as he continued his career as a professional hockey player in Europe, after a few years of playing in the States. That is the day I became an expat.

I had so many emotions, I was leaving everything I knew and loved in Colorado to start a new journey in a place I had never been before. Of course I was excited, how cool to be 24 years old and moving to Europe?! But I was also scared, and apprehensive of what I was about to face. Even though I was in a happy and loving relationship, and experiencing a way of life some people only dream of, I can honestly tell you that was one of the loneliest times of my life. I doubted myself a lot. I wasn't sure I was cut out for this lifestyle and I kept comparing myself to other's my age who were back in Colorado, thinking that I should be doing what they were doing. With all that being said, I can now look back on all of the experiences I've had these last four years and be proud of how far I've come. It is so important to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Don't be afraid to change the things in your life that drag you down, make sure to surround yourself with people and things that make you truly happy, embrace the good times and grow from the bad. You'll be amazed at strong you are and what you are capable of. Being an expat has pushed me to become stronger than I ever thought possible. I have grown so much as person, and I want to encourage others to put yourself in situations that make you grow. You don't have to move across the world to accomplish this of course ;). I also want to encourage you to be aware of your feelings and emotions, and take the necessary steps to make sure your mental health is thriving. Believe in yourself, and don't be afraid to reach out to family and friends if you need help. Without the encouragement and love from those closest to me I don't know how I would have made it through those trying and lonely times.

To close out this blog post I want to share with you what being an expat means to me..
Being an expat means leaving everything that is familiar and comfortable to you, and starting fresh in a country where the language, the currency, and the culture is different. It means spending a lot of time with your significant other, but also spending a lot of time alone. It means making new friends, but once the season is done truly not knowing when or if you’ll ever see them again. It means walking down the street and hearing conversation, but not knowing what is being said. It means being away from family, and heavily relying on FaceTime and texting to feel closer. It means getting to experience the world as a “native”, instead of a tourist. It means traveling more, and broadening your horizons. It means making new memories, but also missing out on special events back home. It means not being close minded and learning about others way of living. Being an expat means encountering a lot of confusion and judgement by those who don’t understand why you are living the way you are. It means embracing where you are in life and how special your journey is. It means becoming a stronger, braver, and more independent version of yourself than you ever thought possible. It means taking it one day at a time, and cherishing the good days and growing from the bad. Being an expat means being grateful for such a unique and beautiful experience, even if it’s not always easy.

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