I quite regularly get friends back in blighty or even people who follow my blog saying to me that our story is inspirational but I am genuinely unsure whether that tag really sits well with me if I’m honest.
I promise you right now that this blog is not a metaphorical fishing rod looking for you to all jump on to the hook and feed my ego. As my friends and family know, no one likes having that ego stroked more than I but I am trying to get my head around why we are inspiring or what that even looks like.
To inspire would be to suggest that someone is going to undertake an activity or change in life of a similar ilk. I don’t see or hear of these people suddenly moving continent or even quitting their jobs in search of some mythical greener grass they have been told is on the other side.
The other side of this coin is that I genuinely don’t believe we have done anything inspirational. We’re not self-made millionaires overnight, we haven’t won any wars and we certainly haven’t won any Olympic Gold medals through adversity. People who have fought in the middle east, lost limbs in battle and then climbed Mount Everest are inspirational. So, what does that actually make us?
Does it make us aspirational? If it does then it is not in the truest sense of the word. If you aspire to be someone or something then it would suggest that you are looking for a higher social status. We certainly haven’t achieved that by moving to South Africa but it is something that we aspire to achieve in the future. You can certainly aspire to be someone but this for me shouldn’t be about social standing. It should be about the person or people and their attitude.
That’s where I actually can see us sitting as a family but we have a long way to go before people should be aspiring to be us.
We have moved from a first world country to what is essentially a third world one. Many rose tinted viewers would suggest that South Africa isn’t in that third world category any more but when you look closely at the infrastructure you can not deny that it is light years behind the western world so for a family to make that move wouldn’t make sense to most would it?
We had no jobs coming out here and we certainly didn’t have too much capital to back us should Mikaela not have found a job like she has or if I hadn’t found some free lance work. Again, a risk for a four-piece family. Schools cost more here, medical aid costs a small fortune and food is certainly not cheap.
We left our support network behind as well. Friends and family that were a drive away rather than an 11-hour flight. We have great neighbours here, Mikaela has some family and we have a handful of fantastic friends but it isn’t 11 years of friendships that we built as a couple. People who have watched our relationship grow, been to our wedding, seen our two children been born and develop and even become god parents to them.
So, to put it bluntly, we left a life where we had good jobs, loads of family and friends and a few quid in our pocket for one where we have less friends, less money and no jobs. Makes perfect logical sense. In black and white it doesn’t but the reality is much different and this is where I believe that people pick up the word inspirational and where I believe we are closer to the word aspirational.
I don’t want to sound crass now but I can’t think of any better phrase to sum this up; we have had the balls to make a positive change in our lives before it’s too late. Whether it will be positive or not only time will tell but I can’t tell you how re-invigorating it is to try this and for that reason this is where I truly believe people are looking at us and having a few re-thinks about where they are heading in their own lives.
We were happy to a point in the U.K. and we know that if we do go back one day then we can build again but there was certainly something missing from our lives. We weren’t 100% content. It wasn’t greed that we wanted more, it was just a sense that life was passing us by far too quickly and we didn’t know how to stop it.
What we did know was that we had the opportunity and more importantly, the attitude to try and stop it.
I can’t stress to you enough just how much attitude plays the biggest role in embarking on a journey like this. I am not under selling it by saying that it is everything.
Leaving a four-bedroom house to sleeping on a mattress for 6 weeks takes attitude. The children not having toys for 6 weeks takes attitude. Learning to live in a new culture, driving in a foreign land, fighting homesickness, tiredness and all of your creature comforts takes attitude.
90 second showers due to the water shortage and accepting that the power could be cut at any time due to strike action is a big change in attitude.
There is also the job situation for me. A white, British male in this country will find it hard to get work. I have no gripes about that, I knew what I was getting into but the long and short of it is that I had to adapt what I set out to do and learn what will work for me. I’ve started my own business and just worked on a huge project over here that will last long in my memory for years to come. More work may come because of it.
I even got offered a full-time job two weeks ago. I politely declined it as it wasn’t for me but after months and months of plugging away I have made breakthroughs. I’ve had days when I felt like giving up but Mikaela’s exemplary attitude brings me back into the game.
We’re by no means the perfect family and we’ve come to a grinding halt on finishing off pieces of the house and garden but just remember that everyone is human and momentum on these sorts of things sometimes runs out. We need to regain that soon as friends and family have booked flights to come and see us and we want to show off the fruits of our labour to them.
I am proud that people do use the word inspire or derivatives of it about my family and I am also pleased that maybe they may make changes to their lives if they feel they need to because of it but I am not sure if I mentioned this earlier, you have to make sure that you have the correct….you’ve guessed it………attitude if you have any chance of making it a success.