Thriving when you’re not in your perfect environment

For the last year and a half, I’ve been struggling to accept and follow Thich Nhat Hanh’s core teaching to “be free where you are”.

Like so many of you, I’ve felt stuck in an environment where I haven’t felt free. I’ve been back in the UK living with family, first waiting to move to Japan to be with Iain and now waiting to move instead to Denmark with him.

I’m someone who really needs their own space. I love spending time with my family, but I also need to feel like I’m not stuck in my childhood.

It’s felt like a long time since I’ve been in an environment where I’ve felt like I could really thrive. That’s a big step away from the life by the mountains I shared in Mountain Song.

When Iain finally managed to return to the UK, we spent two weeks alone together in a beautiful house in Edinburgh before going to his parent’s house for Christmas. We were meant to be there for a couple of weeks, and because of the current lockdown, have now been here for a few months. No one is meant to spend three months with their in-laws, no matter how great they are.

I’ve had so many whisperings of projects I want to work on and move forward, and daydreams of what life could be looking like. And at the same time, I’ve felt frozen and stuck in a place where I can’t make them happen.

Do I feel like a failure, or that I’m massively inauthentic considering I talk about creating a beautifully aligned life and environment that helps you thrive and I’m in a pickle myself? No. (Well, usually not).

The last year has been crazy for all of us.

We’ve had to stay where we are because for most of the time, it’s been necessary. For me, it’s been necessary legally as well as for my relationships and plans for the future.

Even though I’ve felt stuck and unmotivated and like I’m floating around, outside the door I need to get through to get back to where I want and need to be, I know it’s not for much longer. This has happened before, and I always get my energy and focus back and come out stronger.

I’ve managed to change what I can in the environments I’m in, but there’s been a lot I can’t change.

So instead, the best I can do is work with it.

Here’s what I’ve been asking myself while I’ve been so blatantly in the wrong environment to be my best version of me:

What is this giving me to work with?

What am I learning from this?

Where am I going next, when I am able to leave this environment?

What will my life around the corner look like? How can I best prepare myself for that?

What aspects of that version of myself can I adopt now, even while I’m here?

How will I emerge from this more courageous and aligned with who I am than ever?

And the question I go back to every morning: what do I need to know now?

What I need to know today is that I’m on still on track. I’m still going where I want to be. This is a time for me to pause, take care of myself, and pave the foundations for where I’m going. Not everything needs to happen right now. And the destination is going to be all the more meaningful after this past year.

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