Elaine’s story of moving, languishing and ultimately launching The Hub Geneva – Launched last year to provide emotional support to English-speaking families.
Languishing? Languawhoty???? Another label … another term. But actually, this one struck a chord with me. Perhaps it does with you too?
Moving to Geneva in 2019 was our second ‘big’ move. But this time we moved with children which meant there was much more to consider. I didn’t seek to start work straight away. I wanted to help settle my family into our new life. I felt so fortunate to be able to make this choice.
A few weeks after our children started their new school, my husband came home from work.
He looked at me and said:
‘Ahhh …. We got here a bit quicker than I thought we would! Are you okay?’
I wasn’t. I was struggling. There were so many new things to manage and understand and transitions to make. In addition, a whole new language to learn and culture to adjust to. It was an exciting adventure that I was really up for. However, all too quickly I felt myself wondering why I was feeling out-of-sorts and not loving this new life, as I had hoped.
Instead, I was generally feeling a bit ‘blah’ for much of the time.
And what was bothering me? Well, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t really understand the feelings that I had.
Instead, I made sure I had plenty to things to do. I signed up to do a postgraduate course. At the same time, I started taking French lessons multiple times a week. Both with the aim to stay ‘connected’ and to focus on something for ‘me’. You just need to learn French, I was told. Ummmm – it seemed much easier when I was at school.
My postgraduate course brought me back down to earth with a bump. I had 20+ years experience working in my profession. But my course showed there was still so much for me to learn. Plus, returning to study after a long break challenged my confidence.
I found I was spending more and more time online. I was following discussions linked to my profession. I was following discussions linked to news back home, as well as searching for local news. I realised it is actually possible to waste quite a lot of time in the day just searching for stuff. Generally, I was a bit lost.
Then COVID started. And my need to connect became stronger. What’s happening back home? What’s happening here? I found it harder and harder to concentrate for any length of time. I was easily distracted by the ping of my phone. My stupid phone!
Then, I read about a new term for something affecting many people. Languishing. The ‘Blah’ that I was struggling to put into words.
Languishing, ‘the neglected middle child of mental health [that] can dull your motivation and focus …. and it may be the dominant emotion of 2021’ (New York Times, 19 April 2021)
I’m not a big fan of labels. But this one definitely hit home. And from conversations with others, it became clear that many other people were feeling the same way.
However, the rule seemed to be that we shouldn’t talk about feeling out of sorts. Why not? Because we live very fortunate lives. And I know I definitely do. I’m truly thankful for my life, my family and my friends. But I also feel it should be okay to say (without judgement or guilt) if you’re not feeling okay. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live and or what you do. Everyone should feel able to say ‘today, I’m not feeling good’ and be able to talk about why that is.
It was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me.
I’ve spent my career working with organisations to help provide support within communities. Could I do something similar here?
I started to look at what already existed in our local area to support an English-speaking community. It was pretty slim pickings. There wasn’t much available to provide emotional support or help people feel connected. And for some reason, when I did find a useful service, hardly anyone knew about it or had used it.
So here we had it. There is a genuine need in our community for support and connection; that recognises the importance of sharing how we really feel, but is often difficult to do. At the same time, I had also found plenty of people who wanted to do something to play a role in helping to build a stronger community, to volunteer but were not sure exactly what to do or where to go to be able to support others.
This became the basis for The HUB.
In January last year, a small number of fabulous people came together to share their experience and ideas. Since then we’ve researched existing initiatives, made lots of new connections, started to train volunteers and launched our website. Languishing has been kicked to the curb!
We’ve relished being able to start to make a difference to other people, but also seen what a difference this has made for those of us directly involved. Working together has been so positive.
We have a long way to go to help us to grow and develop The HUB to meet the needs of all those wanting support. But we are excited to have made a start. If you’re interested in helping to continue to develop The HUB locally, we would love to hear from you. Check out our ‘Volunteer’ section to learn more about what this could look like for you.
Getting involved in helping others locally and/or reaching out to [email protected] to connect and share how you are feeling might be the step that helps you to feel more okay.
It’s January and the traditional time of new year resolutions. So how about it? Now is the time to get involved. Ready to try something new? We would love you to be part of The HUB’s journey.
Or perhaps you feel in need of support. If so, we are here for you.