3 Ways To Handle Expat Loneliness
Being an expat can bring a certain kind of loneliness. When you leave your native country, you tend to go away from your familiar terrain of family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances and step into a completely new world. A new world where you may be exposed to all kinds of challenges and difficulties including new language, culture, and no social circle in coming years. In a way you begin with a blank sheet of paper.
Of course being an expat can also have huge advantages. You learn to find your way in completely new terrains and cultures and you start relying more on your inner resources. You develop new skills. You get a more global mindset. You start gaining a new independence. You begin to understand and respect diversity from other cultures and backgrounds. You learn to operate more and more out of the comfort zone.You develop empathy for those who go through similar challenges of being an expatriate. (Unless you have been an expat in a new culture,you cannot imagine easily the kind of emotional,social and mental challenges it brings.It looks easy but it is not). That's why one of the unspoken truth between expats becomes is that they begin to develop empathy for each other. They know something which the native people of their host country will never be able to imagine, unless they have been in a similar situation as you.
Loneliness is one of the challenges many expats may face.
From my own experience of having witnessed several expat stints in different countries,here is what I can share as an antidote to expat loneliness.
1. Embrace The Situation As It Is For The Time Being.
No running away from reality.Everything takes a certain time before it can transition into something new. Don't look for immediate shortcuts.Take a longer perspective. Accept the challenges of stepping into a new culture and country. Trust yourself that gradually it will start becoming better. This trust itself will start helping you immediately.
2. Join Clubs, Events, Sports, Activities To Meet New People.
This is obvious in a way but since it is a helpful point,it can be said here again.Besides your work or study, join local clubs, platforms or activities for sports,socializing and meetings. Internations is one of the very good platforms for all of these things.
3. Relating to Real People Means Showing Your Real Self.
Too often you may have a sense that although you are meeting new people, it may be still very superficial. It means a certain kind of loneliness still exists which needs more than small talk or casual banter in parties or events. To relate to people in a more meaningful authentic way, begin by showing more of your real self and trusting the vibes you see around you. From big circle of small talk crowds around you, you will start sensing some real vibes with few individuals. These are the people where you can expect to know them more at a level which is more than just casual acquaintance or superficial banter groups. But to know so called real people,you will have to take the risk of showing your real self.
As an expat finding your way into a new country and culture is a long journey, full of challenges and learning, but also many heart warming amazing moments in the journey. Fasten your seat belts and be ready for the take-off. Sit back and relax. And trust that this flight despite it's challenges will take you where you are meant to arrive.
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Ashish Anand is founder of Unleash Your Power. Ashish is an Executive Coach, Author and Workshop Leader who specializes in discovering and living one's Life Purpose. He is based in Munich, Germany.