“Great things never come from comfort zones.” – Unknown
Dear First Time Expat Me,
You are in for a real roller coaster ride, sister. Shit is about to get real, and you have no idea how real it will be.
I am so excited for you! You have decided to take the plunge and move to another country…it is going to be an eye opening experience. You have made the conscious decision to give the expat life a go. You have had the hard conversations with your spouse or partner, your parents, your kids, and your friends. And, your answer is still…”I want to be an expat”.
You are about to give up everything you know as normal. EVERYTHING. Your favorite thai takeout place, your favorite brand of dryer sheets, your local barista who knows what you want before you open your mouth, and your hairstylist…you might miss your hairstylist most of all. So, make sure you absorb those last minute indulgences…binge eat the prawn chili pad thai, pack a few boxes of dryer sheets, savor every last sip of your coffee, and get your hair done one last time.
I’m not trying to scare you, but I am trying to explain to you how your life will be a hell of a lot different. In fact, it will never be the same again. Aww, does that sound scary…well it should…but I hope it sounds intriguing as well. Don’t you feel a sense of adventure on your doorstep? If you don’t get a ball of excitement in your gut when you talk about your upcoming change…I suggest you try to tread lightly because expressing negative behavior and thoughts is like shooting yourself in the foot before you’ve taken your first step.
I don’t think you want to make deep sinking footsteps into the expat world filled with doubt and bad juju. Sure, you might not be moving to a place you ever thought you would move to in a million years, but you can’t say it doesn’t have the possibility for enjoyment…and maybe even more happiness than you could ever imagine.
Imagine if Steve Jobs had said to himself…”Self, you’re right…I’m going to fail. I’ll do it…but I’ve no faith in it working, and I’m going to be unhappy trying the entire time.” He probably would have never revolutionized the way technology has changed peoples lives over the past 30 years…and then how would you be able to communicate across oceans face to face? Huh?
I don’t think you will allow yourself to discover the full potential of what your expat life has to offer if you start the journey with set limitations or ultimatums. I think it creates an invisible barrier to really engage in the life you could live, if you only had the cojones (AKA balls) to dive head first into the deep end. It takes a really brave person to be an expat. Did you know that? Do you realize how big of a leap of faith you are taking in yourself? You need to see your own potential, and then own it like a boss.
I also believe limitations and ultimatums can seriously hinder your relationship with your partner or spouse. They are already worried about the idea of moving with you to what feels like Mars, so if you place your bets by doubling down on failure before you try…there’s gonna be resentment on both sides. You are both faced with different challenges daily. One of you might be faced with things that drive you batshit crazy…you can’t even get the easiest of tasks completed without four attempts. And, one of you is learning to work in a new environment and new role. You need to support each other, and be in it together.
So, here’s my theory…Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway. Being an expat is kinda like being a bull rider. Bull riders have 8 seconds to make shit happen, and most don’t make it that long. Chances to experience life abroad is uncommon and unrealistic for most people to even comprehend. So, take this awesome opportunity by the horns, hold on tight, and enjoy the ride. Try to keep an open mind and heart because negativity will only make things harder on you than they already seem. Believe me when I say, this shit is not going to be easy…But, I really hope you see your potential to BLOOM.