I do not have family in Australia. I have a husband and two boys, and they are my closest family. Or are they?
Here I have discovered the value of friendship. In my past I did not really value friendships as much as I do now. I was very much focused on my career and my nucleus family and consequently did not invest as much in relationships as I could have.
This is what I have discovered about friendship in my seven years in Australia:
Friends become family. Their family, when visiting, becomes your family as well. You cry in sympathy when they leave, because you understand the heartache that your friends are feeling. You hope that you too will see them again.
The beauty about these friends who become your family is that you choose them. But, once that choice has been made, it seems as if the going opinion is that you ‘klou soos klitsgras!’ You take them warts and all. Through thick and thin and whichever idiom you want to connect to this.
I am often times overwhelmed by the gratitude that I feel towards these friends that I have come to find here. They make our journey in this Great South Land so much easier. Their presence sometimes soothes the ache we feel when we miss our loved ones who are so very far away.
Dear Migrant to the Great South Land
You may just say to someone some day, “I find that I am friends here with people that I would never have been friends with in South Africa.” You may just experience that a new friendship is a connection on a much deeper level than you ever thought possible with new people whom you have not known for the whole of your life. It happens often.
Your way of reaching out to people will have to change. Your work mates will not necessarily be your friends anymore. You will meet people at get togethers, you will meet them at Australia Day celebrations, you will meet them in a shop or at the library.
Do not judge a book by its cover. A heavily tattooed and pierced bloke or sheila may just have a heart of gold, and think of what you will miss out on if you decide to rather turn your back and not reach out, because they do not fit in your comfort zone.
May your friendships this side surprise you daily. Just remember that your new friends are only human as well, and they may disappoint you or hurt you. The thing is, here friends become your family and we stick to each other and by one another.
To all my friends here in Australia, ‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart for accepting me, loving me, and changing me for the better. You beauties!’