View this post on Instagram
Growing up, I was pretty concerned with finding my place.
As a multi-cultural, globally-minded, travel-loving Austrian girl, I often felt different or like I didn’t fully belong. While other girls around me seemed fully adapted to societal norms and expectations, I felt restricted.
My hobbies were extravagant (from writing songs and recording music to self-taught “accent-stripping” with the help of “Friends” and my voice recorder).
My friendships exotic (making me spend my pocket money at a parlor on international phone calls to South Korea and Mexico).
My aspirations big (to become an internationally acclaimed singer, nothing less).
Since I didn’t feel a strong sense of belonging in my home country, I figured I needed to go out into the big, wide world and find it there.
So, it came as no surprise that I jumped at any chance to spend summers and semesters abroad, or when, at the age of 18, I packed my bags and moved away.
Eventually, my dreams of becoming a singer faded, but my love for global living remained. I moved to different countries, cities, and homes. I befriended people from all over the world, learned to cook their food, to speak their language, and to dance to their music.
My international identity and lifestyle felt vibrant and exquisite…but there was one thing missing. A thing that had always been missing somehow and that I continued to look for in all these places, people, and experiences:
The feeling that I was home.
After years of studying and working abroad, I eventually returned to my hometown—where I (ironically) met my Spanish husband. Once we got married, we continued to live internationally. This time, though, it was because of his career.
Let me tell you, following someone else on his foreign assignments felt a whole lot different than moving in quest of my own dreams and goals. There were times I felt lost, powerless, and without direction.
Meanwhile, the concepts of home and belonging became even more blurry for me.
And in the midst of that internal crisis, I gave up looking. I stopped seeking on the outside and, instead, catered to myself on the inside.
You see, I may not have become an international superstar as I’d dreamed, but my inner diva stood by me, and she refused to be victimized. She ordered radical self-love and awareness, and to prioritize feeling safe and grounded inside my body, my thoughts, and my heart.
One day, my husband and I were preparing for yet another international relocation. I was standing in my beautiful kitchen, a place filled with so many memories that I was going to miss. It was a moment that called for emotions, some tears or a little outburst maybe…but there was nothing.
I picked up the phone and called my sister, the confidant I can always throw ideas back and forth with.
“You know what I realized?” I said to her. “With my international lifestyle, I can’t attach to a physical happy place. But I have my ‘Inner Happy Place.’ No one can ever take that from me, and I will always belong there.”
That realization felt so empowering, liberating, and comforting like nothing ever before.
I coined the term Inner Happy Place to symbolize a deep connectedness to oneself. It’s a feeling of intrinsically belonging and being safe, whole, and home with oneself. It’s a concept that has provided comfort and solace to myself and my network of women living an international lifestyle.
Rupi Kaur said, “Loneliness is a sign that you’re in desperate need for yourself.”
And now I understand what she meant.
I used to look for that special something or someone to make me whole and bring me home, but whenever I did, I got hopelessly disappointed. It also drained my energy and left me feeling weakened, disconnected, and like I was giving my power away.
When I started to tap into my Inner Happy Place, I focused my energy on becoming my own best friend. Being curious, digging deeper, and getting to know me: my higher self, my inner child, my shadows—you name it! I got to embrace all of me.
I made sure to be kind, loving, and nurturing to myself. To listen to my intuition, pay attention to my own needs, keep the promises I made to myself, and forgive myself when I messed up.
And, just when you may think it was all about me, it turned out that nurturing my Inner Happy Place also made me a better person and allowed me to make a bigger impact in my home, work, and community.
Of course, life will keep giving you lemons. You will continue to experience ups and downs.
But even when everything around you crumbles, your Inner Happy Place can be your safe place to go and make lemonade.