If you are a trailing spouse (wife in particular) then you probably have experienced something along these lines.
Got excited about moving to a new country thinking how great it would be to get to know their culture, learn the language and make friends with the locals.
Had to leave your job, whether it is one you loved or not, thinking that it’s an opportunity of a life time to take such a long and well paid (by your other half) break.
Arrived, settled in, after initial excitement found yourself hanging out with other expats, speaking English, even if it’s not your first language. The new language turned out to be impossible to even get a grasp of and for some odd reason those locals simply doesn’t notice you. Hmm...
Suddenly you feel left out. Maybe even alone.
On some level you might even be blaming the universe for bringing you here and your partner for ruining your life and taking away your independence. You have no sense of belonging, you don’t have a job to go to, you feel that slowly but surely your brain is turning into ...how to put it nicely.... porridge?
Even if you have kids (and supposedly being a parent a full time job) you still think that you’re wasting your life and no one understands you.
You think, what is the point of it all? Wasn’t I once well educated, career driven, independent, flexible, beautiful (yes, gents think this too)?
There could be many reasons why going back to proper employment is not an option for you, for example: you don’t speak the language, you are only there for couple of years so what’s the point you might ask, they don’t hire foreigners from inside the country, they don’t hire women (yes, we see this all over the place), you just had a baby (congrats!) or about to have one (hold on in there) or simply can’t find your ideal job. (By the way, the list goes on and on).
(Because many of us want just that).
I found my answer to this in entrepreneurship.
I am someone similar to what you’ve read just now, a mum of two little ones whom no one wanted to hire because I’ve been out of work for three years and had the so called ‘baggage’ (yes, it’s very normal in some countries not to hire new mothers and often it’s quite openly spoken about).
My values and priorities have changed and I now wanted more out of life but different from what I wanted in my pre-kids times and I wanted it all on my own terms.
And I did exactly that.
I took time to work out what it is that I wanted to do. What it is that I could do that would tick all my boxes but most importantly something that was meaningful to me.
Me. Not my husband, my parents, friends, kids (though at this age they don’t care much).
Lots of hours have been put into developing what I have now, but considering I do what I love, it’s been one fun and very smooth ride.
My business has become my third baby. I never stop thinking about it and it adds so much joy to be able to share my life with my family, watch my kids grow, attend their special events, meet friends for breakfast and still run my own gig. And… make money. Yay!
Seriously, I wish I was brave enough to do this earlier in life.
I’m not saying entrepreneurship is for everyone, but if my story resonates with you and you think that independence, flexibility, being in charge, living life on your own terms, having a happier family, loving relationship and extra income is for you, and then ask yourself the following:
That’s enough to get you started. In fact, it’ll probably make you think for a good few day. But when you are ready to come out of your thinking zone, talk to someone about it. Do your research; see what you can find to answer your own questions.
There’s a way out of every situation. You don’t have to struggle alone, there’s plenty of help out there. Use it. Only then will you make the most of your unique international experience.
Katya Barry is an International Business and Expat Coach and expat mum, international speaker, entrepreneur and a business lecturer who works virtually from her current home base in Germany. Join her online summit for expats and international entrepreneurs for more advice and inspiration.
The many expats and travelers enjoying location independence is a testament to the viability of these careers. Whether it means you are starting a new career or transistioning from what you are doing now, the most important thing to remember is that it is possible.
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