A while ago I was speaking to someone who had moved from the US to Israel, and asked her what she found difficult about the transition. One of her points was something I had never consciously thought of. She said that Israelis all have a huge support network that they take for granted because they don’t know what it’s like to live without it. They don’t know how much help they get from their network, how even the repairman showing up at their home when he says he will is often about connections.
I was thinking about how true this is. Sometimes you don’t recognize what you have until you don’t have it anymore. So many times since moving here that I’ve felt so frustrated and powerless to accomplish what I want to accomplish in the time frame that I want to do it in. I’m used to being a pretty efficient person, knowing how to navigate life, and if I don’t know, I know who to ask who does know. But all that changed when I moved, and it’s pretty unsettling.
For example, a month ago a friend has a special event that I wanted to give a gift for. It’s been a month and I haven’t yet sent anything, because I don’t know where to buy greetings cards! No, this shouldn’t be a big deal but there are lots of little things like this, not having the phone numbers that I need, not knowing who to call, not knowing how to work the system…Often I’ve felt lonely and sometimes I’ve felt downright desperate for someone to please help me!
This difference was really brought home to me when I was speaking with a couple of friends in the US. Listening to how they are all pulling together and working together to find solutions to a tough situation underscored for me this difference – because this is so different from my reality. My life here has been about trying to find solutions to everything I need on my own. I value independence, but I’m forced to be much more independent than is ideal – interdependence is a higher level of functioning than independence – for lack of a network to call on for help.
Is this a depressing realization? No, not really. It takes time to build a network and to build personal resources. I know about a lot more things now than I did when I arrived eighteen months ago, and in a few years I’ll know a lot more people and have a lot more connections! This is just one more example of a challenge to be aware of in advance of making a big move. I have to remind myself to be patient and value the small steps that eventually lead to having a wider social network.