day 29: On patience

Henri Nouwen quote on patience -

The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen. – Ralph Marston

The expat life is a full and fascinating and transforming lifestyle. And yet it is for many people one of the biggest steps out of their comfort zone. And looking back over all my posts this month for my 31 Days to Embrace Expat Life, I’ve noticed how often it requires patience.

It requires patience to learn the language. It requires patience to get through the loneliness and make friends. It requires patience with your spouse or partner as they adjust at a different pace. It requires patience as you figure out the new customs, new traditions, new ways of greeting.

I love this quote above, that the keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Acceptance of the ways things are in the new culture, that things will be different, will seem bizarre or illogical at times, will seem unfair at times. And faith that despite all the strangeness, embracing this expat lifestyle will ultimately be incredibly rewarding for you and your family.

Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself. – Saint Francis de Sales

Be patient, first of all, with yourself. It takes time to adjust, and you may feel frustrated at your emotions and reactions. In those moments when the tears come easily, or you really wish your punchbag was not now stored in the attic instead of hanging in the apartment (true story) take a deep breath and give yourself another day. Be patient with yourself.

“Why is patience so important? Because it makes us pay attention.” ― Paulo Coelho

Impatience causes us to try and rush through life faster than we are meant to. We try to get over these uncomfortable emotions quickly. We try to blend in as fast as possible. We try to skip the frustrating learning phase and move through to fluency. All that will come with time, but if we rush it, we miss out on so much.

Patience gives you time to look around and absorb this moment you are in. Learn from the frustration and the loneliness. Understand why you feel a certain way. Recognise the truth about a circumstance or a culture that you had missed in your impatience.

“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

There is so much to notice in your new country. And feeling like an outsider can make you acutely aware of where others are also living on the outside. Patience in this moment can lead to compassion. And that is one of the most valuable things you can gain.

Our new countries, these intriguing and confusing new cultures – there is so much hidden here to be discovered and enjoyed. There are so many important lessons to be learnt, so many faces to be seen, so many moments to understand. Embrace patience in this expat life, and they will show themselves to you.


This post is part of my 31 days to embrace expat life. I’m writing every day through October on this topic (I’m three days behind!). Click on the button to see all the posts so far…

Previous post: Saying hello.