Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Expat Dilemma

Last night, I was trying to explain to Trevor how it's like to feel trapped between two worlds. I said trapped but what I really meant is stuck. Not physically, but emotionally, although a physical metaphor might illustrate it better.

 It's like flying from one place to another and having to bear through a perpetual layover. You've left home and said your goodbyes. Your friends have gone back to their homes and jobs and came to terms that they won't see much of you anymore. You are out of their lives, for the most part, and out of their daily routine. Your bags are packed and on the plane already, but you have another plane to catch. Meanwhile, you're not getting anywhere. You're just stuck in the waiting lounge of your next flight. You know where you're supposed to be heading, but can't quite get there yet. You have no friends in the new place, because friendships take time and commitment and you don't even know if you're going to click with the people at your new destination. Because friends need to click.

So there you are, in the waiting lounge, watching some planes take off and other planes land and you have no idea when you'll be called to board. Meanwhile, you try to keep yourself busy because you know that otherwise you'll go crazy. But in the back of your mind, the same thoughts spin over and over again: What do I do when I don't belong anywhere? Who am I between uprooting and rerooting? How do I figure out which is the best way to build my life again from scratch? When does it get easier?


  1. Mickey, I experienced this condition you describe so insightfully only for a year, when I lived in the States. But then, I knew it had an expiration date, so that helped. I believe what helps is having a plan. I hope you will consider applying for a PhD, but then, I am an academic, and that's the sort of thing I'd say, quite predictably. But I speak from my own limited experience, and I'm happier when I'm with my peers. The friends you click with are usually also among your peers, people whose conversations you find awesome, and who can stimulate you intellectually, but not only. You just need to identify where you might find them. For me, it's the academic community (even that on its own is no guarantee, of course, for the clicking, but it does help). So I wish you happy discoveries and a lot of click, click, clicks.xx, Mihaela

  2. Thanks for the words of encouragement, MP! The truth is my love affair with academia died away when I realized that it was not sustainable to the life I want to build for myself. But you are so right, I need to find my people and build my tribe, which is proving hard to do when I'm not in an organized setting. I miss being in college, I miss the interactions and the laughs and the amazing people I met there. But I should probably come to terms with the fact that my life right now is not a perpetual college (I wish!) and clicking is so hard outside of my comfort zone.


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