My university lecturer, perhaps a bit too optimistic of a person, used to shout to our class in frustration after asking a question: "Come on! You are supposed to be the future management of the FTSE 100 companies"! With this ringing in my mind, I slid my letter of resignation from under my keyboard, pushed it up my sleeve and started the walk across the office to see the big boss. My hands were shaking like they had never done in any presentation or performance; I was excitedly petrified (yes this actually an emotion). I wasn't going to a competitor, no. I wasn't changing career, no. I, um, I, well, my boyfriend has been offered this fantastic opportunity abroad and I'm going with him.....cue jaw drop.
This was hastily followed by a barrage of quite personal questions from well, nearly everyone! Have you ever lived together before they asked? Because you know sometimes people find they don't get on when they move in together! Shouldn't you be making him propose before you drop everything? You've worked so hard and you're being promoted next month, why would you leave your job to follow someone else? Why is his job more important? Here's XYZ salary raise, will this make you stay? Why is he making you go? You're too young! You've barely used your degree! Might I add, these questions and comments were not from my family, that despite being quietly sad about my departure were very supportive. Yet, these comments did get in my head at the time.
I am quite the opposite to a "third culture kid". Going to University, which was a thee hour drive North of the home I grew up in, was a very big deal for me. I was the kind of student that went home every other weekend in my first year. My family has lived in the same county for many generations and none of my friends at the time had lived abroad. I had a gap year in my degree, which required a year working "in the industry". I remember seeing a couple of job descriptions and getting rather excited only to disregard them immediately without further thought on seeing they were abroad. Maybe it was because I was hopelessly in love with a gorgeous footballer studying Physics (aka future Husband and still head over heels) but in his absence I don't think this would have changed matters. Hopefully, this sets the scene in what a mind blowing decision this was for me and how my mind was wired before my Husband and I became aware of the opportunity. Basically, if I can do this and have a freaking good time - then I think absolutely anyone can! So this is what I would love to say to the J that handed in her notice that day, embarking on a new path as an unemployed Expat Spouse (and anyone in a similar situation):
1. Your new life choice will open up your mind and educate you in ways university or a career will never.
2. Don't listen to everyone, only listen to advice that is meant for your best interest and is helpful - it is easy to tell what isn't!
3. Don't be ashamed, you are not selling out on a career. Your opportunities just got bigger not smaller.
4. People often don't have just one career and you don't need to work in a fancy office in a fancy building to be successful. However, if you still want to do this anything is possible - where there is a will there is a way.
5. You will always be in control of your life and you always have choices - you are not a trailing along you are trail blazing!
6. You're future Husband knows best (but never tell him this). He wouldn't have suggested the lifestyle in the first place otherwise.
7. You didn't "give up' anything, you gained in many ways.
8. You will be in touch and see your family more than you think
9. You will need to try hard at learning languages, making new friends and generally do things that are outside of your comfort zone to help yourself (but it will be okay).
10. Oh the memories you will have, the things you will see and the stories you will tell.
I would LOVE to hear from anyone that found themselves in a similar situation. In fact, I would also love to hear how a Third Culture Kid/a person that was raised in many countries felt when starting out as an Expat Spouse - was it as big of a deal?
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