One of the best parts of being an expat is all the new friends you have the opportunity to meet, often people with very different cultures, backgrounds and ideas. Meeting them and getting to know their stories is such an enriching experience and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything.
The other side of the coin, is that you’ll often be far from family and friends that you love. This weekend, a lot of my UK relatives are getting together to enjoy one of Grandpa’s rare visits south of the Scottish border. Hearing them get excited about the chance to spend time together has me turning a beautiful shade of green! I’d love to be there with them, sharing stories, seeing how the children have grown, celebrating my cousin’s recent engagement.
It’s a reality of being an expat that you’ll miss a lot back home. We’ve missed weddings, births, funerals, seasonal celebrations. It can be hard, especially when the photos get posted the next week online and you momentarily consider photoshopping yourself in.
But a life that’s full of regrets and focusing on what you miss is no way to live. So instead, today I bring you my top tips for managing the sadness of missing out, so that it doesn’t become a stumbling block to you embracing everything the expat life has to offer…
1. Be good at keeping in touch.
Some people are naturally better at this than others, but make it your intention to become good at it. It doesn’t need to look like pages-long handwritten letters or hours each night on the phone.
Collect those free postcards that you can often find in cafes and bars, and send them to friends with a quick note to say hi, that you’re thinking of them, what you’re up to. Buy stamps in tens so that you always have one when you want to send a quick something.
Make skype your best friend. And schedule in calls with the people you really don’t want to lose contact with. Rasmus and I have also bought UK and Danish phone numbers so that our friends/family (really just our mums use them!) can call without the crazy foreign charges.
If someone crosses your mind, text them or facebook them then and there to say hi. You’ll forget later and they’ll appreciate the thought.
2. Understand that “missing out” is not a one-way feeling. Your life of travelling and living in foreign lands looks exciting and enviable to many people back home. Keep the people you left behind involved in your life in the way you’d like to be involved in theirs – remember to send back photos, email updates, write your Christmas cards.
If you model including people in your life, they may learn to do the same, and help you feel included in their lives at home.
3. Recognise that life goes on. Sadly, you cannot be everywhere at once. There will always be a great party, a joyful wedding, an important moment that you’re missing. But the flip side of that it that you are experiencing your own important moments right where you are. Practise being present in your now, and hold on to gratitude for everything you do have.
Have you experienced the feeling of “missing out”? How do you deal with it?
This post is part of my 31 days to embrace expat life. I’m writing every day through October on this topic. Click on the button to see all the posts so far…
Yesterday’s post – It’s hard to say goodbye.
Postcard photo via pinterest