Expat Worry

Expat guilt is a real thing that happens to all expats. Johnathan and I suffer from our fair share of expat guilt.  I've learned to live with the expat guilt. I had to. Last summer my youngest niece drew a family picture. When I asked her where Johnathan and I were she showed me a separate picture on a different piece of paper because as she put it, "you live over there, you're not here a lot like everyone else." The guilt I felt in that moment was very real but in the 7+ years we've been here I've learned to live with it. Just like every other expat ever.

Guilt is a pretty common topic of conversation with my expat friends. We feel guilty for being so far away. For being absent from basically everything in our families lives. For making the choice to be expats in general. Guilt runs rampant in the expat community and we talk about it, a lot.

What we don't talking about is the worry. That's different than guilt. Worry is an anxious feeling that sneaks up on you and whispers things in your ear when you least expect it.

We worry about big things like....

...our nieces not knowing who we are because we live so far away.

...something happening to a family member and not being told until it's too late.

...about missing weddings because we aren't given enough notice to get travel sorted.

...about missing funerals because those are sudden and there have been times where we wouldn't be able to get home in time for said funeral.

...that we made the wrong decision of moving overseas to begin with because it's scary and hard to be so far away from your family and the people who love you and get you.

...that everyone is over us being here and won't come to visit so the onus is on us to come home rather than having them come here.

...that after all this time we still stick out as foreigners.

...that we are judged for our lifestyle and that somehow it's changed us in a bad way and our friends and family are too nice to point it out

...that communication isn't always a two way street and while people know what's happening with us they don't tell us what's happening with them because they don't think we want to hear about it because we live in Switzerland and some how that makes our life far more glamours than it actually is and that they think we aren't interested in hearing about their all inclusive vacation to Mexico or that they are putting on a new roof or that their child got a the lead role in the Christmas play.....

We worry about little things too like...

...the shirt we bought our godson while on a trip won't fit anymore because he has grown between when we buy it and when it finally arrives in the mail.

...that we can't arrange a skype date with someone when we want to because time zones are a pain.

...that we're out of touch with what the little ones in our life are into.

...and that we still think of our godchildren and nieces as little ones because to us when we left they stopped growing up even though they are now 11, 8, 8 and 5.

...that we have a new nephew we don't know when we'll meet (for reference our youngest niece was almost 2 when we finally met her.)

...that our goddaughter won't think we're cool anymore.

We worry...a lot. About big things and little things about things we can change and things we can't. Like every other human being ever and we're okay with that. Just know that behind those fabulous travel posts on facebook and Swiss alps photos on instagram is a life that really isn't a glamorous constant cocktail riddled adventure. It's just two worried, guilt addled idiots who moved to Switzerland because their plan wasn't really that well thought out but happened to work out some how.


Cynthia said…
I get what you mean.... I especially relate to the "communication not being a two-way street" thing. I find that a lot of friends or even family just read my blog for a taste of how I'm doing and then just don't write. So many emails I've explained all about how I'm doing and then ask, "tell me, how are you doing?" No response. It's a bit annoying.... I think I'm going to try not divulging anything about myself until I finally get a run-down of their lives :)