To my fellow live abroad-ers, expats, travellers, and those away from ‘home’, I’m sure we can all relate on this level. We love our lives, but we still have hard times.
Living abroad isn’t always about escape.
It is about being open to a new future that you haven’t fully constructed in your mind. It’s about wanting to do something different that you can’t conjure up from everything you know about your hometown and every experience you would expect to have there. It’s about finding yourself in the world without the limitation of your pre-conceived ideas. Taking the scenic route and trying something different just because, why not? It’s about being open to becoming someone you wouldn’t recognise today – becoming a new rendition of yourself. It’s never been about hating home, at least not for me. For me, living abroad is about having no mould and creating a tapestry of life using only my favourite parts about everywhere I’ve been with all that I’ve learned.
The Verbal Hug
Life abroad isn’t always beautiful landscapes and great espresso. When you’re the friend/auntie/son/sister that chose to take the road less travelled, it’s difficult to report ‘home’ that it’s not all sunshine and daisies. You don’t want to say that you’re struggling, because then the person on the other end of the call might consider it evidence that you should come home. And they’ll vocalise that they think you should come back, again. And you’ll have to give your big speech about why you love living abroad, even though in that moment you just wanted to talk to someone from ‘home’ and be given that verbal ‘everything is going to be ok’ hug. When in reality, you end up giving that verbal hug to them. You end up apologising for the missed births, birthdays, parties, weddings ceremonies, graduations… all of the events that happen all the time that you don’t receive an invitation for because people assume you can’t make it. And they’re probably right. You probably can’t make it. And they probably just want to save on postage. But it still stings you a little bit.
I know I still have to go to work. And pay bills. And buy food and petrol just the same as everyone back ‘home’. But I’m happy for my locals to change in any given month of any given year. I don’t want to eat the same breakfast or live under just one roof for all of my days. I know what I’m missing out on. It’s all those events to which I didn’t get the invitation but still poured over the photos afterward. But even so, I know what I’m gaining. Not everyone understands why people choose to live abroad and that’s ok. I will always have so much gratitude for those in my life who say, ‘I don’t know why you like it but as long as it makes you happy, I support you’. There are no sweeter words to hear than these from someone who chooses a less international life.
Does It Have To Be Once In A Lifetime?
When you’re the one who moved abroad, you don’t expect people who prefer the comforts of their own home to jump on a flight overseas to see you every chance they get. Although when folk do visit, it’s especially nice if they don’t frame it as a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip. On the flip side, it seems many from ‘home’ expect the one living abroad to return every chance they get. At least annually if not more! But here’s the thing, I left that very place in exchange for something new and different. I love everyone I see on every return journey I make but I also want to see more of the big beautiful world I set out to explore. Whilst I will forever get that warm fuzzy feeling when I arrive ‘home’ to the scents of pine trees and fabric softener, I also want you to get warm fuzzies when you visit my place. Perhaps you could find a home away from home with me in my world.
Dreams Do Become Reality
Most of the time, life is good. You have the experiences that you never could have imagined. You have out-of-body moments where you have to pinch yourself to realise this is your actual, real life that you’re living in the flesh. These are the times we live for. The days where your dreams are your reality and you hold on to them with such gusto because you can usually float through the darkest days on these clouds.
What Do I Want?
My dream is to roam about until my body is worn out and my mind is filled with millions of stories from every place I’ve ever loved. I want to create the most elaborate tapestry with my life even if that means I forgo the traditional life of ‘home’. I want reunions where not a second is wasted and the best bits of life are shared. I hope to visit everyone I love and spend precious moments with them. Then I want us to go away again for more.
Despite our lives looking very different, I want us to love each other the same.
And I want this for everyone who lives abroad.