The Thesaurus teaches us that the expression “to start from scratch” means the following:’ start at the beginning with no advantage. The scratch line was a stripe across the ground where a race began. Starting from scratch had no advantage against other in that race’.
Reading the explanation of this expression seems to imply that there is no benefit to “starting from scratch”. In this first blog for expat partners at work I would like to explore another perspective of this expression. Having had the chance myself to start from scratch, I feel very grateful for it.
If you were to ask your friends, colleagues or family around you how often in their lives they were given the opportunity to start all over again, they would very likely answer not very often. Unlike you! You might be on the verge of moving abroad or maybe you just landed in this new place which you need to make your own. You get to start from scratch!
I still remember waking up in unfamiliar, unknown places where daily routine becomes challenging, where feeling completely lost and uncertain as well as being unable to speak the local language takes over. . It is from the bummers and misunderstandings that I learned so much about local culture and myself. They were as insightful as they were meaningful to me.
I still remember when first moving to Brazil, how I often felt completely exhausted and frustrated at the end of the day. It felt like I had to deliberately go the extra mile each and every day, over and over again. Something which I experienced again many years later when I relocated to the United States with three children.
My silver lining was becoming aware that I am at choice every day. In Brazil, I made the conscious choice to allow myself to play around in the unfamiliar new space of opportunities and challenges meanwhile trusting clarity would come. It was about balancing the ping-pong between polarities: the unexpected surprises and the unexpected frustrations, about good and bad days, about fun and loneliness and trying to find a harmony in all this.
The choice that most served me during the years I lived abroad was to volunteer my time to projects that were aiming to make a difference in local communities. While living in Brazil I worked at two not-for-profit organizations in the favelas of São Paulo; in China in a state owned child orphanage and during my time in the United States I contributed to a program which was designed to support those who lost their jobs due to the economic downturn. For me all these have been life changing experiences, all of which contributed to who I am today. I would never trade it in for the world.