I’ve been feeling rather sluggish and unmotivated lately. I have had little to no energy or interest these days in things I typically like to do, like read or cook. I have been feeling very blah most of the time, and sometimes have had to make a real effort to even do basic tasks.
Yesterday I began to think about what’s been going on and why I’ve been feeling so off about so many things these days. Was I perhaps suffering from depression? Or is the current round of heat and humidity to blame? We’ve been on and off here all summer with storms threatening (and yes, there is another one on the way), so maybe the current ennui is from stress, subtle or otherwise. The news about the house day before yesterday was certainly discouraging, but I knew it wasn’t the cause of these feelings, just something to add to the rest of the malaise.
I know this may sound strange because we’ve been here on Kaua’i for over a year now, and because Hawai’i is part of the United States, but I think I am still suffering from culture shock. Coming here was in many ways like arriving in a new country. Hawai’i is very different from the mainland in so many ways, and besides coping with those differences I’ve also had to deal with the loss of friends and other familiar things. Introvert that I am, it’s also been hard for me to get out and meet people and make friends.
The culture shock experience is sometimes graphed as a “U” or a “V.” There’s an initial euphoria or high where everything in the new location is different and exciting. Soon frustration or annoyance with everyday activities sets in, and the initial high plummets. Eventually though adjustment takes place, a positive attitude returns and all seems well.
A more realistic graph of culture shock, however, looks more like a “W.” That is, there is a second dip that follows the first. The initial acceptance of the new location (the middle peak of the “W”) actually occurs only on the surface. Eventually one has to confront deeper issues, both cultural and personal, that start to bubble up to the surface, and which typically cause feelings of discontent or depression. As these issues are dealt with, feelings of satisfaction and belonging in the new location eventually return, creating an upward swing in one’s mood and motivation, and leading to a true acceptance of one’s new place and situation.
The more I thought about it I realized I’m definitely deep in the second dip of the graph. We’re going through another hot, miserable summer. Much as I love our house, I’m honestly tired of having to wash dishes every day and go up and down to the garage to do the laundry. I deeply miss my Portland friends. I still haven’t figured out my place here or where I belong, and I still don’t know what I want to do. I’ve reacted by shutting down and by doing nothing.
I know this will pass. I remember going through a similar stretch when Brett retired from the navy and we moved to Portland. For a long time I didn’t know where we belonged or if I would ever fit in, but I found my place, made friends and Portland truly became home.
I know the same will happen here. I truly love living on Kaua’i, and have never even once felt like we made a mistake coming here nor have I ever thought about leaving. I know I just have to give myself time to find my place here.