I Didn’t Choose the Expat Life

I didn't choose the expat life, the expat life chose me.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

– Douglas Adams

There are some people who from a young age, are content with what life makes of them. They go to school, graduate, learn a trade or get a degree, date, eat sushi, go to the gym, have sex, pay taxes, do juice cleanses, pick a person, move house, dabble in interior decorating, train for a marathon, adopt a dog, go on holiday, pop out 2.5 kids, eventually retire and call it a day. They accept the status quo and roll with it.

Then, there is the rest of us.

Do you find yourself going through the motions of day to day life, yet sensing something is not quite right? Maybe you’ve found yourself walking around your city, marvelling at its beauty, yet simultaneously feeling a sense of displacement. Or you are surrounded by the people you love the most in the world and while you’re aware that you should feel whole, there is still a piece of you that is not quite clicking into place. Perhaps it’s a daily occurrence; you get up in the morning to go work at the job that you kind of just fell into and don’t particularly enjoy. You basically do all that is expected of you as a contributing member of society, but you’re not really living; you’re just going through the motions.

The answer might be simple – there is a possibility that you are not currently where you are supposed to be.

Travel is beneficial is so many ways. It broadens your mind and provides you with an education that your days in the classroom can’t rival. It gives you something to look forward to; a break from the monotony of everyday life. Even some of the most upsetting moments in travel make for the best stories later on down the track.

Your time as a traveller however, is fleeting. At some point you are going to pack up your bag, get on a plane and fly back to everything you left behind. As rewarding as a holiday can be, it is but a temporary solution.

Dismantling your life as you know it to move to a foreign city is an entirely different kettle of fish. You’ve gone and made a conscious decision to leap straight into the unknown; a concept that can keep some people terrified for life. It’s an act that takes serious guts. That being said, some find the parameters of our modern existence quite satisfying in itself. There is no one way to live a life – we all have different paths to wander down.


Personally; I didn’t choose the expat life. The expat life chose me. I certainly appreciated what I had back home, but somehow it was never enough. I didn’t ever feel like I quite fit in. I went through the motions of everyday life, but did so with the acknowledgement that something in my world was out of alignment. The first step in my journey was making a conscious decision to determine what that actually was. When I finally stepped on the plane, with my bags packed and a one-way ticket clutched in my hand, I knew I was finally on the journey to where I wanted, needed to be. I’m definitely not there yet and I have no idea of the hows or whens of it, but at least I know I’m on my way.

It may be as big as letting go of a dream you’ve had since childhood, or making slight adjustments to your five year plan; whatever it may be, I think true happiness exists in facing the unknown, armed with a sense of acceptance over whatever may be thrown at you.
You may not even know what you looking for, let alone how you’re going to get there, or the length of time it’s going to take, but you’ll know at the very least that you’re heading in the right direction.

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  1. This article resonates with me on so many levels. I tried that status quo life with a partner who gave his all, but my feet were not meant to be planted. As a child I lived in three countries by grade 2. That need to explore has stuck with me, nudging me when I’ve been in one place too long. Thank you for sharing!

    1. So glad to hear this Dawn! I wrote this years ago but I reckon it’s still important to confront the unknown with an open heart whenever possible.

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