The longer we’re here in Australia and the more I speak to expats, the more I come to realise that we’re all caught up in the same constant whirlwind of mixed emotions. We’ve all moved away from home for whatever reasons, be it work, escaping the dreaded commute into central London, or just for the sense of adventure. We’re all having a beautiful time, making the most of the wonderful things expat life delivers, however, we’re also all fighting the same inner demons. Pushing the incessant state of confusion to the back of our minds, only for it to rear it’s ugly head as soon as we shut our eyes at bedtime. Or is that just me?
I think being an expat in Australia holds far more questions and unknowns than expat life in other countries. We’re not here for a ‘project’, or a set amount of time, before being moved on again. So many people come to Australia as expats, quickly decide to stay here forever and become citizens; it’s almost expected. People are taken a back to hear that’s not part of your plan. ‘What? You want to give this up? What about the kids?!! Another upheaval?..But the UK is shit!!” (Yes, we get that a lot!) This only goes to add to the confusion.
So the questions dance around my head, like a drunken couple on a wedding night dance floor:
- “Have we done the right thing?” “
- “Should we stay for good?”
- “What if they don’t let us stay?”
- “Is the education system better at home?”
- “Have we made a mistake doing this at all?”
- “Do I want to make friends, only to leave them behind?”
- “I miss my friends and need to be closer to them.”
- “I know I’d be happier all round at home”
- “Who am I here for?”
- “I can’t imagine moving home now, it just wouldn’t be the same.”
- “I love our life here, I wouldn’t have it any other way”
- “Oh the children need to be closer to their grandparents, we need to get home.”
- “Life is easier at home”
- “Oh I love the lifestyle here”
- “The kids are so happy and settled”
It goes on and on and on. It’s as if you hopped off the plane and a “SHIT!!!!” button was pressed. Ta Dah, here is the ‘Expat Mum’ feeling!! The feeling that you have done the wrong thing for your kids, your career… your marriage!!!! However, in reality you’ve made an awesome choice and everyone is happy as Larry; so why won’t these feelings go away?!
Is it just me?
I’m pretty sure in my house no one else is giving expat life a second thought! Maybe it’s mum guilt on steroids? Maybe it’s a sense of longing for all the things I never appreciated, that I now don’t have the opportunity to embrace. I’m well aware that it’s the ‘grass is always greener’ feeling. Some days, I desperately want to head home; yet at the same time I really don’t want to go!
I am slowly coming to realise this confusion I feel is all part and parcel of living so far away from so many people I love. That’s the only thing keeping me here on the edge of my seat, and it’s something all us expats need to keep pushing against! It can be all consuming at times.
Time to embrace it!!
I’ve realised that whether you’ve been a lifelong expat or have only been abroad for just a few years, you will have these nagging thoughts at times. It’s part of this rich life we have chosen. Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s saying ‘Too foreign for home, too foreign for here, never enough for both’ seems to ring true with me more and more these days.
I guess what I want to say to anyone reading this is, don’t push people away because you’re not sure how long you’ll be here, don’t miss out on doing that course because you may not need that qualification if you go home. Don’t live your life waiting for something else to happen, or for another move to take you away. Live your expat life as if you’re there for good. Build those friendships, make those commitments, buy that car, get a pet, choose that high school, because at the end of the day, no matter where you are, you don’t want to be missing out on the magic of living life to the full!