A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life
– Christopher K. Germer
A little over two years ago, I was sitting across from my brother at a Japanese restaurant in the middle of downtown Toronto. This particular interaction with him occurred just a few days after my breakup and so at this point, my heart and my mind was still in complete chaos. Although I can’t recall the exact details of our conversation, I do remember asking my brother one simple question to which his response has been one of my frequent “go-tos” when I’m feeling out of sync or misaligned with myself.
“Am I going to be okay, Kuya?” (Kuya – meaning older brother in Filipino).
“Loubelle, you will be just fine”
Five simple words.
You will be just fine.
You will be just fine.
You will be just fine.
My experience and my pain gave me so many gifts; one of which was the gift of self-compassion. Moving to Europe sure sounds glamorous on paper, but in reality, moving abroad alone can be difficult and challenging. During the first few days of my arrival in The Netherlands, I’ve had to repeat those five simple words to myself over and over again. The beauty in my past experiences however, is that I now know that I have the strength to get through almost anything. If I was able to get through one of the most devastating periods of my life, and make it to Europe, then everything from here on out is just building on top of the solid foundation I created for myself two years ago.
The universe wasted no time in testing me. It started right off the bat with my arrival at the airport. I moved to Holland with nothing but a yoga mat, two backpacks and three suitcases. With no physical home in Toronto, I was forced to take everything I own with me (apart from three smaller suitcases I was able to leave behind with my brother). Thankfully, in Toronto, my friends accompanied me to the airport and so I had tons of help in moving my bags. However, at the Amsterdam airport, I had no one but myself. It was difficult getting all my bags to fit onto one trolley, but the hardest part came when I had to get from the airport to the central station to catch my ride to Maastricht. Yes, I suppose I could have taken a taxi, but that would have cost me 50 euros or more as opposed to a 4 euros train ticket.
At the arrival section, trolleys were no longer allowed in the elevator that led to the trains and so I had to move my bags into the elevator and onto the train all by myself. Fortunately, people could see how much I was struggling and offered to help me. Once I got to the central station, there were no trolleys available at all, so I lugged my backpackers bag onto my back, my smaller backpack on my chest, and used my two free hands to move my three remaining suitcases. To make matters worse, I also got lost at the station and it probably took me an additional 20 minutes to find my ride. At this point, I was exhausted and my back was aching like crazy. It took so much effort not to cry, but at the end of the day, I made it to Maastricht safe and sound.
If I thought I had a stressful day the day that I arrived, nothing compared to the feelings I was about to experience the next day. I spent the morning cleaning and unpacking my bags, and then decided to make a trip to the Student Services Centre to collect my confirmation of enrolment and my student card; only to find out that I wasn’t registered at all and that my enrolment was still pending. Due to some miscommunication, as well as the fact that I had overlooked two e-mails that the school had sent me regarding missing documentation, my file was incomplete. I also did not bring the original documentation with me and so I had to contact my mom to courier the files to Maastricht which would take seven business days at the earliest to arrive (it was the long weekend in Canada), so you can imagine how stressed out I was starting to feel.
I knew that the school wouldn’t send me back to Canada, but worse case scenario was that I wouldn’t be allowed to attend the first week of classes. To be quite honest, I actually wasn’t too worried about that, as things always have a way of working themselves out. My primary emotions were more so feelings of disappointment. I was EXTREMELY disappointed in myself for disregarding and forgetting about the emails the school had sent me. Usually, I am SO ON TOP of these things, and so I was incredibly hard on myself over the next few days. With the stress of moving (and trying to set up my new place, find a bike, set up my phone, and bank account etc.), and navigating my way in a foreign country with no routine or friends yet, I broke down on my second night in Maastricht. I couldn’t hold the tears any longer. Even though I knew everything was going to be just fine, I needed a release, and crying definitely helped.
This was where the magic happened though. Over the next few days, I focused all my meditation on finding self-compassion again – compassion for my journey, compassion for not knowing, and compassion for my humanness. Understanding that it’s okay to feel stressed, it’s okay to feel frustrated, and it’s okay to feel sad. I am not perfect, and I know that. Ultimately, I am still so proud of myself for getting to where I am today because two years ago, as a very different version of me, I definitely would not have been brave or independent enough to make this move.
Over the last week, however, things have definitely improved since those first two days. Maastricht is a beautiful city, and I absolutely love biking around to get from place to place. I’ve biked to Belgium for dinner, attended an international evening and made some new friends, attended faculty day where I also met some people in my class, and just in general, have been going out and exploring the city. This past weekend, my childhood friend, Joan, came to visit me and I got the opportunity to travel to Rotterdam as well. The universe has still been so kind to me regardless, and for that, I will always be grateful.
With that being said, all I can say is that life isn’t perfect all the time, and whatever it is you’re going through, especially if it’s a BIG CHANGE, then just know that it will take some time to adjust; every single emotion you are experiencing is completely valid. We are ALL human after all, and part of the human experience is allowing all these emotions – the good and the bad – and every single part of you, to co-exist with one another. Give yourself permission to just feel and allow yourself to be who you are. This growth and awareness is part of the journey of self-love. Just like all of you, I am still learning, I am still growing, and right now, I am still adjusting to this big change in my life.
So when times get tough, just remember these five simple words,
You will be just fine.
From my heart to yours,
Love & light,
– The Phoenix