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The key question for expats – are you ever coming home?

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked this question. But I know it’s more times than I’ve even contemplated counting.

As I’ve worked with expats and travellers of all ages, there seems to be little discrimination. The question comes up everywhere. From friends, family, colleagues and even strangers. People back ‘home’ and people in your new home. It seems people are more curios about our location and intentions than about our general well being.

All jokes aside, this is a burning question for expats, and many of us react with an almost reverse reaction. That the more times you’re being asked, the more likely you are to stay away for longer. Of course there is a time equation here – the longer we live far away, the harder it can be to picture yourself moving back to the life you once had and the place that’s no longer fully considered your home.

I’ve been asked by some of my clients how to best answer this question, so I thought I’d share some tactics here with you as well, just in case you want some good strategies of how to cope with this.

  1. No-one can make you feel anything. Sounds impossible right! When you are feeling upset, annoyed, or plain sad when certain questions comes up, it’s simply because you allow it. And most likely you have some unfinished emotional business around how you want to be able to respond to that tricky question. Don’t get mad at the person asking the question.
  2. What’s the highest intention of the question? Do a quick mind-read of the person who just asked you. Is it because they care about you? Love you? Want something to gossip about? Miss you?
  3. Don’t choose to react – respond instead. Some questions trigger something inside us and challenge us. That’s when we feel the need to react and defend ourselves and our position. (This is part of our ego and a natural instinct, something I can teach you lots more about if you want to work more closely with me in the online program). But rather than reacting (and verbally attacking the person who asked), take your time and choose a response in line with your answer to point 2. My personal favourite goes something like this “I know you miss me, and I miss you all so much too. The best thing about having such a loving family/friend is that I know you support my life and choices as long as I’m happy”. Who can argue with that?
  4. What if the question keeps coming up and you get tired of answering it? Send your loved one the link to my blog post packed full of tips specifically around coping with a loved one being far away.
  5. Own the choices you make in your life. We don’t always feel 100% certain that we’re heading down the right path in life, but sometimes we simply can’t know unless we give it a chance and allow ourselves to see what happens along the way. Most often people will ask if you’re coming home (or keep asking the same question over and over) because they are not sure if the path they see you take is right for your relationship with them. Not that it’s necessarily wrong for you. Decide what’s right for you and respond to their questions with compassion and love. Which funnily enough will result in you having a lot more love and compassion for yourself as well!

What’s your favourite way to tackle this (sometimes) tricky question?