On Circles…

Nothing in life terrifies me as much as circles. It’s a privileged thing to say, given that much of the world lives in close-range danger. It’s funny, too, given that I am the product of two genocides… one would think that a circle is the safest place to be for someone like me.

Throughout my childhood, every year carried the possibility of absolute change. We could pack up our bags and go at any moment. Amidst this lack of stability and consistency, I would look at my friends and wish for the opportunity to find a circle: somewhere that I would belong, where I could trust that things won’t change so fast.

When I was on my own as a young adult, I started establishing traditions in the effort to make this happen. I was one of few friends who were at university without family nearby (the closest were a 13 hour flight away), and I made my home the gathering space for everyone. Year after year, we built a Thanksgiving tradition together. Soon, we were going for our annual apple picking trips and visiting the Sugar Shack in the winter (if you don’t know what a Sugar Shack is… it’s time to visit Canada). I started attending annual fundraisers and community events. I picked up foreign traditions, like St. Patrick’s day and Halloween, and made the trek out to the capital for Genocide Memorial marches.

Circles within circles.

Then, something shifted. I started saying things like “it’s nice to know what’s happening next, but I’m a little bored.” Uh oh. “I thought it would be nice to be friends with people from my mother culture, but I’m a Third Culture Kid, and they don’t get me.” Uh oh. “It’s nice to spend time with his family, but I don’t think this is working… but… what about all the traditions?” Uh… Run girl, RUN!

I ran straight into an impromptu Master’s program.

You can take the girl out of the adventure, but it seems you can’t take the adventure out of the girl.

Confronted with this realization, I had to decide what was more valuable to me. To stay, or to go? At the time, I had no good reason to stay, but God works in mysterious ways. As I was planning to finish school and leave, I found one. And nothing frustrates him as much as… circles 😏. Life is funny that way.

It’s definitely a luxury to be able to say that stability and consistency are boring. Routine is, after all, the foundation of modern society. Very little of our world would exist if it weren’t for millions of us running through routine days. But what does this mean to us on an individual level?

In my family, we deal with this by taking on new challenges. We don’t often choose the easy way because, if we do, the routine will suck the soul out of us. My husband and I like living a little more on the edge, taking on big projects and some risks in the hopes of advancing in life without losing the entertainment. We haven’t thrown ourselves into the wild yet, but it’s bound to happen sooner than later. We also try to maintain a balance between cherishing our circles, and persistently imposing change on each cycle.

We are still learning how to do this. It’s easy for years to blend into each other if we don’t make the effort to attribute a new character to each one. We are also a lot more picky about which circles we allow to persist… life is too short to waste on meaningless routine.

What about you? Do you prefer stability or fluidity in your life? What do you do to keep changing and growing?

And remember… we design our own luck!

M.

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