When making big, life-changing moves, we all need people supporting our decisions, cheering us on, telling us we’re okay. Big, life-changing moves are scary, after all, even when based on logic.
As children, most of us had people encourage us to take another step even after we fell down, to get back on the bicycle despite the skid marks on our knees, to go ahead and jump into the deep end of the pool.
So now we’re all grown up, and planning a move to another country. It’s like contemplating a jump into really, really deep murky water of an unknown depth.
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Where’s our cheering section now? Who’s there saying, “you can do this!”
If you’re like most of the expats I hear from, when you tell family and friends you’re planning to expatriate the response is more likely to be “No! Don’t jump into that water, it’s full of crocodiles!”
In talking with my youngest daughter, who’ll be a freshman in college in a few weeks, I realized that my cheering section is actually my kids!
My mother has taken the news calmly. Other family and friends range from openly skeptical to downright discouraging. A few friends sort of understand.
But it’s from my children I hear comments like, “That’s really exciting.” “I think you’ll have a wonderful time.” “That makes a lot of sense.” And practical questions like, “How will you manage in a country where English isn’t the main language?” instead of, “You won’t be able to manage unless you speak Spanish fluently, and you don’t.”
My youngest “thinks it’s pretty cool.” She’s looking forward to having more interesting places to visit on vacations than most of her classmates. The only thing that upsets her is that when she comes “home” she won’t necessarily have her own familiar space any more.
My oldest son’s first thought when we discuss an international move is, “which country?” “Are you planning on learning the language?” is next. Reservations? None.
My older daughter, an extremely social young lady, has concerns about our social well being, and wonders whether we’ll be able to connect socially with people around us if there’s a language barrier. She doesn’t want us to be isolated, and as long as we’re happy, she’s happy.
From our middle son: “I think that’s great if you are making the plan together and it’s what you both want to do. I don’t want to let geography dictate opportunity for me or for you, so as long as you’re a plane ride away I’m happy.”
Our youngest son, who’s very unflappable, just absorbs and processes the information.
Who’s your cheerleader?