Expat life and friendships.. Past and present
Greeting your friends and family as you embark on new adventures are never easy. Especially when you relocate to a rock with no clear idea of your return to the mainland.
I’m no expert on expat life as I’ve only been in Mauritius for about two and a half months and I’ve previously spent three years living in Luderitz in Namibia but I didn’t really think of myself as an expat back then. I am however a self-proclaimed expert on moving and leaving friends (and family) behind. I’ve done that so many times that I often felt my heart couldn’t take it anymore.
It is not pleasant topic and often a sad one but it sort of comes with the territory. Especially when one moves a lot. I have made friends far and wide as the areas we moved in covered most of the South African and part of the Namibian coast and am blessed with friends that understand the fact that our lives are unpredictable due to hubby’s career.
I made some friends that are still friends and I made some that I have lost along the way. Either they lost me or I lost them, either way, these things happen as we carry on with this thing called life. I hold on dear to the ones that makes the effort to do the same and whether we speak once a day or once a year I will always cherish some friendships. Especially those meant to go the distance.
It’s not a situation one can avoid as once you are relocating abroad it’s sort of par for the course that you’ll be leaving much loved friends and family in your wake. Something that can cause great heartache and pain and a fact which can make one feel abandoned once you’re settled in your new home in a place where you have no friends or acquaintances yet because once you’ve arrived here you are so busy settling in and setting up that you frantically try and hold on to the friends back home not ready to reach out to the strangers surrounding you which is OK, for the moment. But eventually you are going to have to let go of that fear and reach out. Make the first contact. Be the brave one. You don’t want to hear this but you are probably not the only once scared to do so.
It is normal to hold on to your friends and family, expecting them to love and support you from afar. You’re NOT suppose to let go. Neither are they. But as time passes and the days grow long, the distance grows bigger, the chasm wider. The bond of friendship perhaps a little thinner. It’s not intentional from either side but living an expat life one should remember that life goes on. What you musn’t do is take it personally. Don’t forget, as their lives goes on, so does yours. You are on a new adventure. Treat it like one and whilst keeping in touch with loved ones, don’t sit in a corner and live in the past.
I often forget that back at home my friends are working a full day. Sending a message at awkward times or expecting and answer back and receiving none. I’ve learnt to deal with it because for the moment I’m blessed enough to be taking a ‘gap year’ as hubby calls it. I keep touch with my friends but I understand that life on their continent looks way different than life on my rock. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I try and keep it in mind and to respect the fact that their day looks different than mine.
Don’t get me wrong. I am NOT saying you have to lose those friends but if one or two fall by the wayside it was probably not a strong friendship to start with. So don’t get your panties in a knot about it. Get up and go on.
For the friends that are keepers. Be sure to keep them close and cherish them much but open your heart and mind to making new ones where you are. Embrace the new people that are crossing your path. Don’t let go of your ‘past’ friends but get out of your comfort zone and get to know some new ‘present’ friends. Ones that can enjoy life here with you in the moment and not just via your selfies and photos on Facebook and Whatsapp. Present friends that are real, present friends that can help you face the strangeness of life on this rock, because here on this rock, shit gets real.
I’ve only been here a short while and I’ve made it my purpose and my mission to enjoy every moment. I go out, I get stuck in the Expat group conversations, I share my daily experiences to the detriment and sanity of the group members at times I’m sure. 😅 By doing that I’m opening the door for strangers to become friends. A strange concept I agree and not one I normally would have embraced back home. 😂 Back home however I HAD friends, I had my family close, I had my job. Life was different. I didn’t need to befriend strangers online.. 😉 Living here though the expat group sort of becomes the new go to for advice and tips, faces and names become familiar.
I have met many people thus far, not all will be bff’s, but I will get to a stage where I will be somewhere on the island spotting some familiar faces, making it feel just that teeny bit more like home. Because this is my new home. This is now where I live. This is where I need present friends, ones that I can call up for coffee or for exploring the island or just have a chat.
My past friends are not out of my heart or my thoughts. Until we meet again we’ll love and support each other from afar and keep in touch till such time. For now I’ll live in the moment and outside my comfort zone because it’s the thing to do. Life happens whether you join in or not. Be sure not to miss out.