Confessions of a Transition Junkie

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“My roots are like those of the ficus elastica, extending over rivers and creeks, crossing borders and creating bridges.

By Stephanie Motz Skinner | Twitter: @stephmotz

My roots are like those of the ficus elastica, extending over rivers and creeks, crossing borders and creating bridges. My roots are planted in Choluteca, my small home town surrounded by the blue mountains, in Honduras. But they stretch far north towards that arctic chilly air that blows throughout the year in Canada. And this is where we find ourselves right now, chewing on sweet corn and barbecued steak on lakeside porches. My transition here, as a new immigrant, has been surprisingly painless thanks to the support of friends and family. But experience has taught me that transitions are not always easy. They can be exciting, but also stressful.

I remember the first time I was confronted with a difficult transition. I was six years old and my family had just returned to Honduras after living as refugees in Canada for four years. It was fun at first, because it felt like a new experience to me. We got to live with grandma and grandpa again, and my brothers and I loved to run through the narrow corridors of their house and play with our cousins every day. We picked mangoes from our neighbour’s tree, danced in our underwear under the warm rain and destroyed dozens of piñatas. But, after a few months, I was thrust into a new school environment and the differences became more evident to me. I didn’t fit in easily. Other children teased me and I felt out of place. So, after a few weeks I realised I didn’t like Honduras any more and I told my parents I was ready to return to Canada.

But this never happened.

In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

I quickly learned I couldn’t have it all. In Honduras we had family and great weather, but we lacked security. We weren’t allowed to play outside the big walls surrounding our backyard.

In Canada, I had friends. My brothers and I could ride our bikes in the neighbourhood and have picnics in parks without having to look over our shoulders all the time. I wanted the best of both places. My heart was torn. As time passed, and our lives continued, Honduras became more familiar, until one day it felt like home. As I grew, the memories of Canada became distant, but the desire to return remained. It was a place I longed to rediscover and I had constructed so many wonderful ideas in my mind about Canada.

When I finally returned in 2006, however, I went through a similar experience to the one I had when I was six years old. This time, I was an international student, but it wasn’t the homecoming I’d anticipated. In fact, I quickly realised that Canada wasn’t home at all. Once again, I felt like giving up and running back home, but my father wouldn’t allow me to. In the end I stayed for three years. I made some life-altering relationships and began to fit in once more. I started recognising smells and tastes and Canadian experiences stopped being foreign to me. I remembered why, as a child, I’d loved Canada so much.

I also learned the hardships of living here and being away from family.

I’ve learned with every transition that although change can be hard, once I get through the first rough patches, it’s usually a rewarding experience. Transitions stretch me out of my comfort zone. They force me to grow and take a good look at my life and who I am as a person. The change of scenery helps me discover what things are important to me in life.  Travel and transition have helped me appreciate the diversity of the world as I realise that there’s so much I can learn from the way other people live their lives. It has also made me more curious about the world.

Transition can be exhilarating, even addictive, and sometimes I have to stop myself from running away when life becomes tough. However, transitions have taught me that while I may be able to escape a difficult situation, I can never run away from myself. Sometimes, it can be confusing to know where I belong. Maybe my homeward journey will be a lifelong pursuit, but I’m still thankful for my family, for the friends I’ve made, and the ones I have yet to meet.

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My dear SheLoves friends, I’d love to hear:

  • Do you feel like a global citizen?
  • What have you learned about transition in your life?
  • How do you plug into this concept of engaging in community when you feel that your roots are stretched all over the place? How do you define community?
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About Stephanie:

I believe in the power of storytelling. I’m a photographer and writer for Fakeleft. Together with my husband, we love sharing stories of courage, of strength in the face of adversity, of triumph and hope. I truly believe that by partnering with others who want to bring change and justice to our world, we can actually make a difference. I’m learning to walk in my nascent faith, but it’s not always easy. It’s an interesting journey.

I am currently living in Montreal, Canada, but my heart is everywhere. I’m a proud Latina from Choluteca, Honduras. I wish I had a Latino accent. My favourite meal is dessert and my favourite sport is tanning. I blog at fakeleft.com and tweet at @stephmotz.

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Stephanie Motz Skinner
believe in the power of storytelling. I’m a photographer and writer for Fakeleft. Together with my husband, we love sharing stories of courage, of strength in the face of adversity, of triumph and hope. I truly believe that by partnering with others who want to bring change and justice to our world, we can actually make a difference. I’m learning to walk in my nascent faith, but it’s not always easy. It’s an interesting journey. I am currently living in Montreal, Canada, but my heart is everywhere. I’m a proud Latina from Choluteca, Honduras. I wish I had a Latino accent. My favourite meal is dessert and my favourite sport is tanning. I blog at fakeleft.com and tweet at @stephmotz.
Stephanie Motz Skinner
Stephanie Motz Skinner

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