I have recently moved back to my hometown after living abroad for many years. It has been a big transition and I am trying to figure out what to do with my life now that I’ve made this big change. I’m doing lots in the local community and enjoying my small town, but am still struggling sometimes with my new life. Can you give me any advice on making a life in a new place?
An expat expat
Dear Expat Expat,
The urge to go home is one which all sheep can understand; we are very good at knowing where our home is, and finding our way back there if we are lost (stories about lost sheep notwithstanding). I can therefore completely understand why you have come back to your hometown. The comfort of being in a familiar place is very great. I know you humans like to travel, some more so than others, and I also know that travel changes us. I went to an event at a farmers’ market once, when I was a lamb, and although I had a wonderful time, I felt quite different when I came back to the farm; I had seen lots of things that the other sheep had not seen, and it was hard to explain these things to them. And that was just after a few hours away! If you have been away from your home for many years, then you will have changed greatly. Of course, our homes change too, and that can be difficult to deal with. You are right, I think, to think of this as a ‘new’ life, rather than a continuation of the old life you had when you lived at your home before.
I would advise you to take your time. You have made a very big change in your life, and it would be unrealistic to expect you to adapt to it immediately. It seems to me that humans, having great big brains, think that they should be able to deal with everything straight away, whereas we sheep are happy to just lie down, chew the cud, and mull things over a bit. The other thing I think you should do is to consider your old life – I mean the life you led whilst you were abroad. What were the things that you were glad to see the back of? What were the things that you loved, and miss? Can you get some of the things that you loved into your new life? Perhaps, in your efforts to contribute to your community, you are doing a bit too much? Do you have plenty of cud-chewing time? If you don’t, you should factor some in.
Finally, I think that you need to find your flock. It is a peculiarity of sheep that, in a mixed group, we will always stay with our own breed, unless of course we have the misfortune to be the only member of our breed in our new flock. I know that, to a lot of sheep, all humans look the same, but actually I’ve come to realise that you are actually all quite different to one another – so clearly you need to find some humans who can be special to you. Obviously, an important part of our flock is our family, those to whom we are related, but we can always find kindred spirits who become valuable flock members too. Once you have found them, they can introduce you to others – and then you have your flock, fully formed and able to support all its members equally.
I wish you the very best of luck, Expat Expat. Even though you’ve used a pseudonym, I know who you are, and I want you to know that part of your flock will always be here – you don’t have to be physically in the same place as us for us to remember you and recognise you as a flock member.
With all my love