“Any Brene Brown fans out there are probably familiar with the idea that vulnerability and courage are often intertwined when it comes to building true connections. But it can be hard to get to that point, especially when you’ve just picked up and moved halfway around the globe and are trying to make new friends in a new place. With this in mind, I was excited to connect with Rachael Lynn, a North American author, and creator of Women Connect Abroad, now based in Dubai. Whether you’ve also found yourself in new geographical and cultural surroundings or are just itching to make real connections where you are, I think you’ll learn something from what Rachael has to say.” – Michaela
The Modern Bee was born out of a desire to create a modern reincarnation of the quilting bees of the past, with the hopes of building a comforting, supportive community for all different types of women, who all have the same desire to connect with other women and find commonality in the most likely (and unlikely) of ways. You’ve also created a community for women to connect in a different way–through the shared experiences of living abroad. What was your motivation for this?
My motivation was selfish at first – I wanted to make friends and didn’t know where to go! At my first networking event in Dubai, I heard someone say “It’s so hard to make good friends here” and
It seems like environments that nourish opportunities to connect authentically in a non-professional or casual way diminish the older we get. There are no playgrounds, team sports, dorm rooms, sororities, or the like. It’s as though the need to connect socially falls lower on the list of priorities. What do you think it is that causes some of us to not prioritize this really vital human need as we get older?
Unfortunately, I think that as the world has become more individually empowered, the narrative was lost that being independent doesn’t mean
A friend who spent a year studying abroad in college once told me she was baffled by some of the other people in her program who really refused to immerse themselves in the local culture, get to know local people, survive on local food and who really just stuck to their own ways and groups of friends from home. She wondered why they had opted to uproot their lives if only to live the same life they lived back home. I’m curious about your thoughts on scenarios such as this one as somebody who has willingly left home on a few different occasions.
There are a couple of things at play here, in my opinion. Firstly, being somewhere new is scary. I remember the first time I heard a Canadian accent in Dubai – and I actually got excited! Even though I was comfortable on my own, the accent was
Second, and maybe harder to detect, I think there are still groups of people in the world who (consciously or unconsciously) view other countries as not as developed, refined, or “smart” as the countries they’re coming from. Of course, we all have pride
We love a good book at The Modern Bee, whether it’s one that makes us lose ourselves in somebody else’s story or one that causes us to look internally at our own stories. Also, as you might have picked up on, we’re also very into the different definitions and meanings of home. You have a book coming out this November that touches base on a few of these themes. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
My book is titled At Home Anywhere: Feeling at Home Wherever Life Takes You – and I wrote it because I thought I was emotionally prepared to move and integrate
Everything I found online and books already out seemed to be geared towards women who move with their husband and kids abroad, and oftentimes are either staying at home or working
The book is part memoir, part journal of loving advice to a friend, almost guided them – whether they’re making a move across the country or across the world – on how to stay connected to themselves during such an emotional transition. There’s story and active journaling prompts, activities, and affirmations to have the reader feel as supported as possible. I love the book!
In James Baldwin’s novel, Giovanni’s Room, which was written when the American novelist was living abroad in France, Baldwin writes: “[p]erhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” If this is the case, what are the conditions that
In a world of possibilities, what would you do with your life if
I think I can finally say that I would do what I’m doing now. I would create something in the world through my writing, have some kids, and try to feel it all while it’s happening. And then, once I had done all that, I would love to run a farm and eat only things the farm produced. Oh, and in my 50’s, I would become a performer in some way – either through dance or music. I love dancing! That would really be winning to me. I want to have it all, just not all at once. I want things to improve with age.
To my younger self, I would tell her to find a woman she really looks up to sooner, and learn anything she can from her. Go to therapy, keep looking for the right therapist or coach until you find them. And I’d also tell her that even if she does none of those things, that’s okay. It will all work out. She is very smart.
What traits do you value most in your circle of friends? What traits do you most value in yourself?
Now that I’ve moved even further away from my friends (I moved from Buffalo to New York City to Toronto and now Dubai) – I can honestly say that for my closest friends I really value consistency. That we
In myself, I appreciate my desire to exhaust all options before I give up on something, or quit. Especially when it comes to interacting with people. I believe people are inherently good and when they hurt us (or others) it’s because something really hurtful must have happened to them. Reminding myself of this often has helped me really learn how to better communicate and be supportive without being stepped on. So, I value that I am always willing to learn and get better when it comes to living and loving.
To wrap up on a fun note, I always end with some
A sprawling backyard or city balcony? Sprawling Backyard Cats or dogs? Dogs – I had cats all my life but we just got our first dog last year. I get it now! Desert or forest? Forest (Don’t tell Dubai I said that!) Fresh flowers or house plants? Fresh Flowers. I can’t seem to keep house plants alive yet. Coffee shop or diner? Coffee Shop for sure. Decaf, please!
Rachael’s book is coming out in November, so be sure to stay connected with her on Instagram at @iam_rachaellynn and over on her website for all the updates. Who else feels more confident about big life changes after hearing what she had to say here?