Expat women, living an easy life?

Expat women are sometimes seen as ladies of leisure and luxury. Is that correct, and how does this judgment affect you?  You are mainly looked upon with jealousy from the home country.

Beautiful house, successful partner, children go to an expensive school, staff for everything  so you can do what you like. Sure, it’s also a huge job,  moving everything, children uprooted, arranging visas/permits and few countries are so organized as the Netherlands. All that in a foreign language and without the normal social networks. The environment can see that it’s not all perfect and there is respect: you took the chance, for others it often remains a dream.

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What does this pre-judgment do to you?

Do you see what I see? It seems funny,  envy over how  your life is so easy whilst we sometimes uphold the image and don’t come clean about how hard it really is. If only it was such a luxurious life. We have, after all, chosen this life ourselves … Maybe it feels like failing to say how difficult it is, we are after all smart, independent women right? Our partner is working so hard, let’s not bother him with it. However, we deny ourselves something important: pride and recognition of what we do, overcoming all those difficulties, or even creating opportunities and contributing something to that new country. Or how essential it is that the rest of the family can find peace because you’re there.

Importance of appreciation and self-confidence

If others do not see what you contribute, you feel no recognition, then I find that very sad. What I find worse is if you feel no self recognition and satisfaction in what you do. What does this lack of recognition and (self) appreciation do with you? A lot, I know from experience and I see it in expats around me. Professional literature is also very clear on this. To feel at home, for a sense of belonging, a sense of meaningfulness, self-esteem and social recognition is very important.  For expats all the more so. Lack of sense of appreciation makes you less at home in your new country. A new country affects your identity,  you are no longer in the old roll. People do not know your qualities yet, maybe you had a job in your homeland. I hear myself say when people ask me what I am doing here in Brazil: ‘ my husband works here with  … ‘. As if my husband is my identity. As if work alone is an identity.

Solution

In coaching we say: we can’t  change the other, first work on yourself:

Focus on the positive: too often we focus on the negative, how much more we wanted to do, or what went wrong.  But we do not see what we have accomplished.

Be realistic: good planning – good prioritsation and time-management helps to prevent a lot of frustration about yourself and others. Especially in a new country, you’ll feel much more useful and you have more of a sense of control.

Be happy and enjoy it if when you do have time. Enjoy it that staff does the work you don’t like. As a friend of mine says: ‘Make the best  of it. If I don’t use it, I am silly. Enjoy it, don’t feel guilty, use it wisely ‘.

Sharing joy about what you achieve is not arrogance. Men are often so good at it, if I may generalise.  They can talk for hours about how well something went.  I can observe with jealousy!. However it is so important to do and then you might finally believe it yourself.. You will receive more appreciation from others.

Last but not least, research if you think you have nothing to do, contribute nothing. Investigate whether you  would like to contribute more, want to feel more satisfaction about what you do. Work on it, give it your attention because that opens up new worlds, away from dissatisfaction, to unlimited possibilities and self-realisation.

Martine

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