Being expat

Take your home with you…

Bildschirmfoto 2015-04-10 um 20.05.07

When this image appeared on a facebook timeline a while ago, I realized that what is said is not the case for me anymore. Even though I am an Adult Third Culture Kid and I felt the same way several times during my life. If I would have read these lines a few years ago, I would have agreed. – Today I can say that this is not the case. Not in this moment. Why? It probably has partly to do with age, but it surely has to do with a more mindful living. Instead of thinking constantly about what my life was 10, 15, 20 years ago, about the many opportunities I’ve had to have another life or another career, the many friendships I had and that faded over the years due to the geographical (but not only…) distance, today I acknowledge every single day, every single opportunity I have to feel connected to my kids, my family, my friends here and now. I don’t think anymore things like “if I only had done/said etc….”, “if only I would have the chance to…”, “why doesn’t this happen to me?” or “why does this happen to me”…

It is thanks to several friends who had traumatic experiences, and who allowed me to assist and support them, and myself going through difficult times, that I can say that thinking or feeling that “our heart will always be elsewhere” like stated in this image, is not a healthy way to consider life. Our heart needs to be with us, i.e. our feelings need to be genuine, authentic and whenever possible, expressed in an open and caring way. Feeling that our heart is “elsewhere” sounds to me like living detached from our inner core. And that can’t be healthy…

If we feel that our heart is always elsewhere we need to try to change something in our situation. Either move back or accept and adapt to the situation we are right now. If we need to be physically close to people, we need to try to make this possible. If it is not, there is a reason for it and we have to cope with it. It takes time, energy, support from others and it can hurt, but change is part of everyone’s life. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we will be able to live a balanced and satisfied life. – This all is way more complicated for people who are forced to live far away from their loved ones (because they are refugees for example) and know that they will never see them again: that is an extreme and traumatic situation one needs professional help with. But TCKs, internationals, expats, global nomads, immigrants… or however you want to call people who live abroad because they chose to, can learn – or need to learn? – to cope with change and not being always physically or geographically close to all those they love and cherish. I’m convinced that everyone can have a “home feeling” by being at peace about loving and knowing people in more than one place. It is so very normal for me now and I truly enjoy every moment with my friends and family when we meet. But I also know that my life, the life that is “my world and my home” is here, now with my little family and all those friends that are active part of my daily life on- and off-line. Many internationals long for a “home”: either the one they left or the one they think they’ll have once they stop traveling. But meanwhile they forget to feel connected from the bottom of their heart with their life here and now.

My very personal advice is always to concentrate on what they have now and consider themselves a bit like a snail: take your home with you wherever you go.

Deutsch: Schnecke am Faulensee bei Langegg

Categories: Being expat

11 replies »

  1. Thanks Ute for this unique take on “home” as it relates to expatriation! As cliche as it may sound home is very much where the heart is. I too have had moments where I felt I had lost certain friendships and opportunities as a result of moving but I have begun to realize that it’s much better to be present where I am and indeed focus on the new opportunities before me. Reading your post helped to remind me that where I am is exactly where I should be and what I make of my current reality will depend on the mind set that I adopt.
    Long response I know 🙂 But your post really resonated with me!

    • Tamkara, I’m really glad it resonates with you 😉 It’s very natural to compare our lives now with what we had before and what we would like to have in the future from time to time, it’s like we assess our current situation. But if we constantly live in a state of contemplation (and longing), we actually miss to live (in the present).

  2. I saw this poster a few days ago and couldn’t wrap my head around it. You’ve articulated just what I was thinking…we need to live in the hear and now, not the past. It’s good to remember and reconnect when we can, but if we hang on we will miss out on things we cherish now – like family.

    • Thank you, MaDonna. I just couldn’t really relate to the “never being home again”: it’s too pessimistic and simply not true. I think we always can find that feeling of “home” somewhere, at some point. Longing for it for years and years is not healthy. I know people who have longed for it for 30 years just to find out that what they longed for was not existing anymore… And then they felt even worse because they realised that they spent 30 years of their lives “not living”, i.e. not appreciating what they had.

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