Do you know how many friends I have here in Kona that secretly divulge to me that they are introverts and really don’t like being in large groups of people? Or people who come here who leave within two years because they are lonely or can’t seem to fit in?
I am not a psychologist and I am writing this partly tongue-in-cheek, but here is some of my experience:
1.Personality Characteristic – Lone wolf or introvert
If you are surrounded by your best friends and are having drinks out on the drive way every Friday night and waving to your neighbors as they drive by while you send up a “Cheers! Come join us!” or if you have your family over every Saturday night for BBQ to catch up, you most likely have no desire to move 2500 miles out into the middle of the Pacific Ocean. People who move here tend to be folks who see the opportunity for adventure in front of them, not hanging on to their childhood friends and memories behind them. Moving to Hawaii means you have to start over in finding new friends. Or not. I have quite a few friends whose spouse is their best friend and they are plenty happy just hiking, swimming, dining with that one person. And that’s ok by them! There ARE people who create community here by being social, but if you ask them, they probably have an introverted spouse at home.
2.Personality Characteristic – Avoidance of Collecting Stuff
If you lovingly touch all your tchotchke’s and dust all of the figurines you’ve collected for decades and revel in reclining in your LaZBoy while soaking in the satisfaction of your book collection on floor to ceiling shelves in front of you and the photos in frames all over the walls, you may have a problem with getting rid of your stuff. You need to let go to move to Hawaii. After running my Kona Newbies group for almost 9 years, the number one bitter sweet and sometimes heartbreaking moments come when the garage sales have to happen to lighten the load to move here. My mom surrounded herself with a treasured collection of penguins, DeGrazia figurines, Moran sculptures, cook books, and antiques. When I suggested she join us in Kona so she could watch her grandchildren grow up, I could see the struggle in her eyes of having to get rid of all the things she had in her home that made her happy. Sometimes the pleasure of being surrounded by your stuff outweighs the pleasure of sitting on a beach with the sun in your face and the sound of palm trees rustling in the breeze or even your grandkids!
3. Personality Characteristic – Strong Sense of Self
If you can’t wait to show up at the next party in your fancy car or your luxury brand clothing or can’t seem to help yourself asking what people do for a living and how much money do they make, well, you won’t like living here (especially on Hawaii Island!) No one cares. And no one is going to compete with you either. One-upmanship may be a form of sport on the mainland, but it’s the fastest route to being shunned on the island. People who have to impress others with what they can buy for themselves may live in second homes here, but living here full time? No one wants to play that game. You may have to take your Harry Winston marbles and go home. People who give generously of their heart, their time and their wisdom are esteemed here..you may call that sharing Aloha. You CAN do things differently!
4. Personality Characteristic -Cultural Awareness
It’s not a hidden secret that the Hawaiian culture is strong here. Hawaiians value respect of their culture, their land and way of life. You have to take your mainland ego and check it at the door to learn the history, the language, the values of this culture in order to feel you belong here. We all come as haole’s, we just do. But watching, asking, learning, participating, and caring goes a VERY long way towards happiness here. I hear stories of folks saying that they encountered “angry locals”. I always ask, “What were you doing?” If you were trying to pick up a sea turtle for a selfie, or walking past a sign that said, “Kapu” to explore further, jumping into a sacred pond or snapping your fingers (or the equivalent) to get someone to move quicker, well, you’re receiving the same energy back that you are putting out there. Say it with me..R E S P E C T.
5. Personality Characteristic- Open to New Things
When you live in a place for a long time, you get comfortable with how things are. You get so comfortable that you would believe that any new place you go, you would want the same things in the new place as you had in the old place. You may even think that if you went to the new place you would try and change the new place to the place you came from. If you live in Hawaii, you HAVE TO LET IT GO, and accept, appreciate and embrace the new things! So, if you are a creature of habit, you find that you can’t be happy unless everything is to your liking, and being in a completely new environment is stressful, maybe an island with a WHOLE other culture and way of life is not for you.
6. Personality Characteristic – Adventurous
Have you read the quote, “Throw off the Bowlines”? Let me refresh you if not:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
If THIS is your motto, you should move to Hawaii. If this scares the hell out of you and you don’t feel comfortable throwing bowlines, leaving safe harbors, dealing with tradewinds, hurricanes, lava flows, pandemics, dengue fever, earthquakes, tsunamis, or cultural upheavals, well, maybe you should unpack your suitcases and stay put. Because living in Hawaii is an adventure. It is full of uncertainties, and soul searching, and wondering if this was the best decision you ever made in your life, and missing your friends and family, and..well, so much more. You need to have an extra well of resiliency to live here.
Trial By Fire
So, if you have ever watched a season of “Alone” on the History Channel, and munched your popcorn watching other people suffer and thought to yourself, “I could NEVER do that!”, I want you to know that at some point a giant cockroach WILL come into your life here. You will most likely deal with creepy crawly jungly type things that make you post it on Facebook and everyone will say, “Ewwwww!” But you will also see things that are so beautiful, that when you post them to Facebook or share them via text to your family they will think you are on the adventure of a lifetime.
Adventures come with sacrifice and change and uncomfortable days.
Ask anyone who has moved here and everyone has a story of how hard their first year here was. It’s part of the “trial by Pele fire”. If you have a warrior stance in your heart, it helps. If you come with Aloha and a genuine sense of curiosity and wanting to learn and accept what is here, it helps.
SO, there you have it. My wisdom of living here since 2005 spilled out for you. So, I invite you to do a gut check and see if you have the characteristics you need to have to sur-thrive here. If you choose to accept this mission, good luck!
And-if you want to have a better shot at success if you want to move here and buy a home, connect with me and my husband as we offer a real estate matchmaking service to make sure you start your road to your next leap of faith in the right way! Julie@Ziemelis.com