Sometimes your adventure can be others’ misery. People who choose to immigrate often feel split between their family and friends back home and their own desires to live and work in a foreign country. Most expats will probably tell you that traveling has broadened their horizons, made them more open-minded and has shown them what truly matters in life. What they won’t tell you is it’s also the loneliest, most alienating and guilt-ridden thing they have ever done.
When you’re an expat, you are often outside of your comfort zone and maybe more prone to these feelings. But mostly, guilt is something you create on your own, which stems from considering those friends and family members feelings and opinions. This can be especially true when others do not see your choice the way you do, or even see you as underserving of what you have.
Expat guilt can take on many forms. It could be guilt for being away from aging parents, having your children grow up far from your extended family, losing ties with close friends or for not living the life your parents or family think you should live. You may even be conflicted about preferring another country over your own.
As an expat, the decision to relocate is normally based on career opportunities, travel, improved life/work balance, or simply to become immersed in a new culture. Some people back home may find this inconceivable and view it as selfish, especially if they feel ‘abandoned’.
So how do you deal with these feelings?
- Acknowledge it – once you know you’re feeling guilt you can start looking into the reasons why.
- Engage with other expats – you will not be alone with these feelings and connecting with other expats may give you a sense of perspective. Search for these groups on/offline and share your thoughts.
- Use technology – talk to family and friends frequently. If you’re missing out on a celebration or event, use facetime to be a part of it.
- Don’t become a hostage – guilt is normal, and it is bound to happen when away from loved ones.
Organisations like Focus are able to provide guidance, support and education. They are a community for expats by expats. The FOCUS multinational team is happy to share their first-hand experience and knowledge on all aspects of living and working in the UK. Whether you are looking to establish a career following your relocation, seeking advice on living in this vibrant country or simply wanting to be a part of a diverse and dynamic community FOCUS is here to help!