An Expatriate’s Journey Of Self-Discovery
Expatriate years offer a wonderful time and opportunity to reinvent oneself. As an expatriate you want to hold onto those parts of you that you love and that work for you, no matter where you are. But while you trail around the world, you have the very good fortune to pick up new skills and/or explore hidden ones to add to the tapestry of your life.
Yes, it is true that as an expatriate you do miss your home, friends, family, and the sense of community and security you had before relocating abroad. Traditions that have been part of your life for so long have to take the backseat to new conventions and customs. The “norms” back home are not always quite that current in one’s new host country.
In South Africa I am one of the crowd, in the USA I was the girl with the accent, in Israel I was considered naïve, in the UK I was mistaken for an “Aussie” and in Korea I, like many other foreigners get a small taste of what life must be like to live life as a celebrity – always get pointed or stared at just for having eyelids, having a western nose and for merely being a foreigner.
When I started my life as an expat I had no idea that I could be perceived so distinctly by different cultures. It also does not take you long to discover that the measures for acceptance back home are quite different elsewhere and so we get to reinvent ourselves. Depending on your outlook this could be an adventure and journey of a lifetime- discovering all the aspects of the whole person that you are.
Yes, expatriate life may be accompanied with many trials and tribulations, but it is not without an equal amount of plusses, happiness and living a life that is anything but ordinary.
You may want to use the time to take stock of who you are and who you want to be. Here are some questions to ask of yourself. Some of the questions may be ones you already know the answer to, others not.
* How do people see me?
* What image do I project?
* Do I hide behind an unexceptionable persona to avoid unnerving others?
* Do I walk away from the passions of my life to suit someone else’s?
* Do I dress to please others, save money or to fit into the crowd?
* Have I wanted to go blonde, but am nervous of the criticism?
* Am I fearful of looking too sexy?
* Am I living in a style that is acceptable to me?
If you have reflected on these questions in the past, these are questions that are due to resurface while living abroad. There is no better opportunity to address them because it is a particular point in your life when you can leave the restrictions encouraged and accepted within your society behind.
In a nutshell your expatriate years could be your destiny. Put yourself first and not do not settle for anything less than your life has to offer.
Quote Of The Week
“After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self-discovery. It’s better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” Sophia Loren