Watch out for this phase in your Expat journey

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This week I got together with an American friend of mine for coffee at my place. We were having a wonderful time playing catch up. When the conversation found its way to our Expat journey and it’s various phases that I myself have struggled with for many years.

What was this phase is your Expat journey?

It is one that I have heard of from every single immigrant I know.

It is one that, if you are not willing to come to some sort of compromise within yourself, to let go certain ideals, or to be more accurate, to not hold on so tight your hopes. Then the chances are that you will stay in this phase.

It will not be easy for you to completely settle down or to move forward in your life.

I am sure that there are other terms out there, but this phase is what I personally call the “comparison phase”

So what is it exactly?

This is the phase in your journey where you hold on to the hope that you will return home soon.

It’s a phase where you are constantly comparing each country, the people, the systems within those countries, the traditions, weather, transport systems, shops, schools and educational systems and so on and on.

It’s a phase where you put off making certain decisions because “I’m not planning on staying here” or not do or buy things that may feel more permanent.

My personal experience was not to have coloured paint on the walls of my house, it had to stay neutral, just in case I needed to sell the house to move back. Because, well, you never know.

Now you know what it is, but what kind of affect does it have on you and those around you?

In my house as a kid, my father used to constantly joke that “ If mum isn’t happy, then nobody’s happy” and this is very true now that I myself am a mother and I have also noticed this in many of my clients families as well.

When everything is temporary, it’s hard to settle down and focus on where you are. You’re not fully committed in your life here and the people closest to you will feel that.

What to do to get through this phase in your Expat journey?

If you are unhappy and always longing to be somewhere else, your focus is going to remain over there and you will miss out on what is in front of you.

You will forever feel torn between two worlds and continue to feel like you don’t belong to any of them and when you do go back home you will notice that, not only has life there changed,  but so have you.  

Something needed to change, and unfortunately moving back to Australia was not an option at this point, then what needed to change was ME.

I needed to shift my focus back to where was, not to where I wanted to be. It did not mean letting go of the hope. Instead it meant that I would start to focus more fully on creating a life here.

It started with a coloured paint on the walls of my house and evolved into creating a strong support system of fantastic friends I now call family.

Another important thing to remember is to STOP the comparing. It really is like comparing apples and oranges. Do your best to let it go. I know that it won’t be easy, but I know you can do it.

By doing so for me it has brought peace and calm in within my family and especially for me.

Are you in the “comparison phase” of your journey?

How is that effecting you and the people around you?

What decisions are you not making because you are holding out on the hope of returning home?

Have you been through this phase and have any advice for others?

Then please leave your comments below.

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