Despite our different personalities, backgrounds and beliefs, there is one trait that every expatriate has in common: at some stage we all decided to say goodbye to the familiar and comfortable, to follow an opportunity in a foreign land.
This is no fluke. By acknowledging that you, as an expat, have an ability to withstand – and often seek out –the new and the unexpected, you can make the most out of any challenge that life will inevitably bring.
In our family, we call it ‘ex-frightment’. That sense of heart-racing exhilaration when you’re about to step forward into something bold and unknown. You’re scared to death and unimaginably excited at the same time. You know this feeling. You’ve felt it as the doors are bolted shut on your loaded-to-the-brim shipping container, or as you hand over your passport to immigration before that one-way flight to your new home.
Of course, some of you may not recognise nor acknowledge this trait within yourself. You may feel you began your offshore posting under duress; because you had to. But, it’s vital to realise that, ultimately, taking up the expat challenge was a choice – one that many others refuse to make.
Recognising that you are someone who seeks out and thrives on challenge can be both powerful and liberating. Acknowledging that you choose challenging situations (even if these decisions are made unconsciously) frees you from a victim mentality in times of disruption, and enables you to more effectively handle the unexpected.
Challenge is an inherent part of life and expatriates enjoy more opportunities than most to engage with and thrive off the back of disruptive and unexpected situations. In order to get the best out of a challenging environment, I encourage you to:
Balance challenge with support
Be willing to make choices that will bring discomfort or disruption into your life, and the lives of loved ones. However, always ensure that an equal measure of emotional support is available for those who are struggling. When you are feeling secure and strong, be there for others. If a challenge is overwhelming you, have the courage to reach out for help and support.
Discern real challenge from fear
Media and gossip can hype up threats and leave you feeling vulnerable to challenges that are highly exaggerated. Maintain a measured approach to what is truly going on around you and focus your energy and attention only on those challenges that really affect you.
Recognise when things are just not working
If a situation has become overwhelming or untenable and the support you need is not available, it may be time to move on. There is no failure in recognising what is best for your well-being.
Maintain a positive outlook
Trust in your ability to endure and in the resilience of your loved ones. Ask for the support you need and always understand that challenge, if approached correctly, can be an inspiring and invigorating experience. It’s natural to feel low at times – in fact it’s vital for ongoing well-being – but it is also important to lean into positivity whenever possible.
About The Author
Kim Forrester is a mother, nature lover, holistic wellbeing advocate and kindness enthusiast. As an award-winning author, educator and consultant, she combines cutting edge science with spiritual philosophy to inspire holistic wellbeing and fullness of living. Born in New Zealand, Kim has lived in several countries - now in Singapore.
Looking for some drops of goodness in your day? Visit www.kimforrester.net for a range of courses, content and consultations that will help you thrive in life. Plus, check out the Eudaemonia podcast on your favourite podcast app for thought-provoking conversations about the traits and practices that can inspire you to flourish.