I have no idea where I’m headed. Most of the time I’m okay with that!
Expat Life. It’s pretty dang sweet over here. Yup, everything really is just as shiny and color corrected as it looks in the Instagram photos! Or is it? I consider myself amazingly fortunate to be living my dream, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle sometimes.
So here they are, my top 6 deep dark expat secrets…
- I get tired of hearing folks back home refer to my life as an adventure.
I know it’s said with the best of intentions, but hearing that you think my life looks like non-stop fun starts to feel a little patronizing after a while. Yeah, I get to take myself on some kick-ass mini-breaks to some of the coolest places in Europe, but I’m not on vacation from the real world, trust me. Even though I didn’t make room for them in my luggage, many of my struggles still managed to stowaway with me to Switzerland. I have crappy days at work, get sick, pay my bills, worry about the future… just like you do. Just because I’m doing it in a beautiful foreign country doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, sometimes it can make it even harder not to have the comforts of home around when you hit a rough patch. So hearing, “Cheer up, you’re on an adventure”, doesn’t really help.
2. I’m constantly plotting my next move.
Sure, Switzerland is great. There are a lot of other great places in the world though too! One of the things moving countries teaches you is that it’s a lot easier to start over someplace new than you think it is. I’ve made an investment in living and working here. I’m making friends, trying to learn the language, etc. But am I missing out on something even better? What if I could be even happier somewhere else? How will I know when it’s time to move on? Feeling like the world is your oyster is a great thing, but the trouble is that I’m constantly restless.
3. Home is where the heart is.
No matter how happy I am here, there is nothing like being back home, surrounded by people who have known me and loved me for most of my life. I have an amazing network of friends in Europe now, but we’re all a bunch of transients. Who knows where we’ll all be one, three or five years from now? Home is my constant safe harbor from this fast paced, anything can happen life I’ve created for myself. It’s really the only place where I feel like I will always belong no matter what may happen.
4. But I can’t picture myself moving home ever again.
There’s lots of people who love where they grew up and are perfectly happy to settled down within 20 miles of where they were born. The thought of never leaving the area I grew up in, no matter how full of lovely people it is, makes me feel like I’m drowning. To be honest with you, I can’t picture a situation in which I’d want to live anywhere in America in the near future. I feel both incredibly liberated and totally terrified by this realization. If America isn’t home anymore, what is?
5. I’m constantly guilty.
There’s no weird feeling quite like the weird feeling of knowing you’re probably happier than you’ve been at any other time in your adult life and all it took was moving 2,000 miles away from everyone and everything you’ve ever known. I feel an unbelievable amount of pressure to show everyone at home how well I’m doing so they won’t worry about me. I miss my friends and family and worry that the longer I stay away the less of a place I’ll have in their lives. I stress about what I’d do if one of my loved ones were to get sick while I’m living far away. Yet I’m so happy! How dare I be happy!?
6. I can’t imagine my life any other way.
I was never really a white picket fence kind of girl, but now that I’ve had a taste of expat life I know that it’s the life I’m meant to be living. Its’ so comforting to know that there’s other people out there like me and my dream wasn’t crazy! I can picture myself living all over the world, making wonderful friends and learning about different cultures. I’m so grateful for the experience I’m having and will have in the future. My life abroad may not be perfect, but it’s real, and it’s definitely the life for me.
So what are your confessions?