Expat guilt

In Challenges & difficulties, Well-being & health by Carole Hallett Mobbs39 Comments

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Originally published 9th November 2016
Updated 23rd August 2021

Are you suffering from expat guilt?

Guilt: ‘a feeling of having committed a wrong or failed in an obligation’
Expat-guilt: a feeling of having committed a wrong or failed in an obligation x 100!

Moving abroad is the adventure of a lifetime. It’s scary, exhilarating, intimidating and awe-inspiring in equal measure. There are ups and downs in every moment of the planning, packing and moving.

The decision to move is usually one that suits the immediate family and can be made for a whole host of reasons – job opportunities being a common one – but ultimately it comes down to choosing a better lifestyle for yourself, your partner and your children. The trouble is, there are almost always other people who demand your consideration.

Split responsibility

Living in a different country brings with it a strange sense of split responsibility. Your primary obligation is to your immediate family but you also get to feel responsible for those left behind.  Unless you’ve developed a unique ability to split yourself in half, this is something you’re going to have to face up to.

Let’s be honest about this – moving abroad is essentially a selfish decision. Your parents, siblings and friends are going to miss you horribly and would probably prefer you didn’t go and selfish equals guilty, doesn’t it? Yes, it is the right decision for you, your partner, your children. But those left behind may not agree and this will inevitably cause sadness, distress and in some cases, even conflict. We’re taught as children that being selfish is wrong but let’s take a moment here to look at the alternative.

Stay at home instead?

You won’t feel guilty – but will you feel fulfilled and happy?
You stay at home. You miss the amazing opportunities that an expat life offers you and you bend to the will of others. You’ll always be on hand to deal with the everyday family ups and downs, you’ll never miss a birthday or family Christmas, your children will grow up in the bosom of their extended family and you’ll care for your parents as they get older. They will all be happy that you’re there. Initially they’ll congratulate you and be thankful that you ‘made the right decision’ but eventually, as time ticks on, your sacrifice will be forgotten and everyone will go about their lives as if nothing momentous ever happened. Everyone that is, except you. You will be left forever wondering what might have been. You won’t feel guilty – but will you feel fulfilled and happy?

Now who’s being selfish?

If you’re being selfish for wanting to move, aren’t other people being selfish if they try to hold you back?
Now let’s look at this from another angle. If you’re being selfish for wanting to move, aren’t other people being selfish if they try to hold you back? Oops – that’s the sort of thought that you’re going to feel guilty about later! There it is again – guilt. Completely unavoidable from the moment you even think about relocating. You’re guilty (and selfish!) if you go… but you’ll end up feeling resentful (and guilty!) if you don’t. Unavoidable, soul-destroying and limiting. So, instead of trying to avoid it, let’s look at what we can do to reduce it.

Acceptance

The first thing to do is accept it. Other people don’t want you to move, you do want to move and you are absolutely going to feel guilty about that at some stage. Just add it to the list! Guilt is something that every adult, certainly every parent, experiences at some point – we feel guilty about how we spend our time, how we spend our money, how often we call home or spend time with our loved ones, whether we are ‘good’ parents, whether we eat the right foods, weigh the right amount, lose our temper too readily… the list goes on and on. The thing is, we don’t let guilt get in the way of all those other decisions (I feel guilty about eating chocolate and buying handbags, but I still do it!) so why should this decision be any different?

Take a pragmatic approach

Approach it pragmatically. Why are your family and friends reluctant to see you go? Simply because they’ll miss you. They will go through a grief process, with all the usual stages – denial, anger, sadness… and eventually acceptance. Counteract this and set in place a reassuring schedule of contact. Arrange regular Skype catch-ups, book them tickets for their first trip to see you, buy them beautiful stationery and tell them how excited you are about writing real letters. Get them involved in the everyday decisions; let them help you and make them feel needed. Especially for parents, seeing a child move away from home (even a grown-up child) comes with a feeling of rejection; of being ‘cast aside’. You can minimise that – and you’ll feel good about it; not guilty. Embrace your independence!

You also need to be aware that leaving people behind is not the only source of guilt for expats (sorry!) There’s also anxiety about the effect the move will have on those who are going with you, particularly children. You’ll feel guilty when they struggle to settle in to their new home and their new school. You’ll feel guilty when they cry because they’re missing their extended family and their old friends. You’ll feel guilty when they are confused and upset by the new language and culture and you’ll feel guilty when things don’t quite work the way you planned and you end up feeling a bit homesick, because then you’ll wonder if all the grief and upset was even worth the effort.

STOP!

Guilt is a useless emotion, and it keeps us from stepping into our full potential.http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/10/why-guilt-is-a-useless-emotion/

Guilt is crippling and it eats away at you. Guilt can ruin your entire experience and make you doubt the wisdom of your move. Guilt can even make you give up and go home with your tail between your legs…but only if you let it.

You made this decision with your eyes wide open. This is an amazing opportunity, a fresh start, a new life. Accept the guilt and be honest about it; talk it through with your nearest and dearest, keep a diary of the ups and downs but don’t let it control the direction of your future.

expat guilt advice

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Comments

  1. Excellent article, thanks for writing and posting. I have a great work opportunity overseas starting late October, and circumstances mean that my partner will stay behind. We have no children, and we have done the long-distance thing before a few times over the past 12 years. Pre-pandemic, she was the one who went overseas for work/business while I stayed behind. Still, I can tell she is a bit sad and apprehensive, and I feel I am going to miss her terribly this time. I do feel guilt and that I am being selfish. I don’t know if it’s because we’re getting on a bit age-wise, not as young as we used to be. At the same time, I feel that things will get better once I get over there, and that this overseas work could open further opportunities for both of us. But there are no guarantees, of course, and there is always financial and other risks. Just thought I would share, as I’m sure everyone reading this and other posts are experiencing similar dilemmas, wishing everoyne all the best.

  2. Thanks for this article, reading this article is like talking to some close friend and sharing the thoughts.

    I am 39 and planned to moved to abroad with my 8 year old daughter. My husband will join us later. My in-laws are so close my daughter that they are not able to accept this departure. 10 years ago, my spouse and I returned back from US as they were so upset and even sick because of our thoughts. Now after these many years, we felt sorry for our decision and we would like to be settle in Canada.

    So, their sorrow, health trouble and emotional instability have started again. This is killing me everyday, I am not even able to talk to them. There is no scope for any discussion and mutual understanding as well. It seems that I am responsible for bringing this sadness in their life. They desire to stay with their grand-daughter. My only source of energy is my husband and my mother.

    I understand their sadness, at the same time sometimes I question to myself. Why aren’t they a little happy for us?

    1. Author

      As you’ll see from the many comments here, you are not alone in this. It’s so sad that our families can’t accept that we move on. I’m sorry they are putting so much unfair pressure on you; it is a form of emotional blackmail, don’t you think? You say you’re unable to talk to them or discuss this, so you have to make your decision and stand by it.
      As you’ll have seen, I am running a one-off, live workshop on Expat Guilt which you may find useful. It’s on 6th September 2021 and you can book your seat here: RESERVE A SPACE. I do hope you’re able to join me.

  3. Thanks for this great article. After seeing all the comments, it eases me that I am not alone in this. I am an Indian and have been here in USA for last 3 years. Even though I did not come to USA with a long term plan, now my wife isn’t really ready to go back to India. The ‘expat’ guilt within me about leaving my parents in india is holding me down. Typical Indian parents are not like the parents in US, they become so dependent on children and expect their old age to be with sons and grandchildren. I don’t debate if it right or wrong. But the thought of not being able to support them morally and provide the only happiness that they crave for is literally making me confused about decisions and feel guilt. Please share me your words of advise. Thanks

    1. Author

      Hey Raj,
      Yeah, I get it. It’s a culturally genetic guilt, I think! You can’t manage their feelings, all you can do is manage your own. Not easy, I know. I think it may be helpful to curtail their expectations of you, by gentle, yet frank and honest discussions. If you have other family in India, perhaps speak to them too. The main thing is to make sure everyone is under no illusion as to your plans; don’t string them along.

  4. Hi! I am 18 now, I´m from Brazil and my college presented a program that allows me to finish the graduation in United States, at a North American university, which would start in 2023 and end in 2025, and, besides, I would have a scholarship there (as I do here), so money wouldn´t be a problem in fact, in this case, it would be an attractive matter, as this is almost a once In a lifetime opportunity. As I have always been so attracted to the idea of living in the USA, that instantly caught my attention. But the moment it became a real possibility, a fear rushed through me. The reason I have always wanted to live abroad is that I don´t like Brazil´s environment. That is: I find the streets very ugly, the poorness bothers me, the lack of freedom associated with the lack of mobility (it´s not easy to move across town, I don´t feel safe walking alone on the streets, etc.) and, also, somehow the social relations/dynamic also bother me (that are somewhat very superficial, especially romantic wise) … So I´m confident that Boston would solve the whole “aesthetic” and freedom issue, but would that be enough to make up for everything I´m leaving behind? Family, grandparents (this is the BIGGEST issue for me as I won´t have them for many more years and I love them very much, although I don´t meet them very often), friends… Am I postponing a romantic possibility of meeting someone here in Brazil? Because I don´t feel very good about not being able to speak my mother language with my significant other, even though I´m fluent in English (my ideal world would be finding a Brazilian guy willing to live there with me…). And there´s also another thing: due to the pandemic, I haven´t been able to experience college the proper way, that is, I haven´t been there and it has been 1 year since I got in! If I leave, I will have very little time to enjoy it and realize if I really want to live abroad (and I think that would happen actually). Also, keep in mind that by staying in my house 90% of the time I am almost forgetting how much I get annoyed/kind of disgusted by the environment. Anyway, I hope you can provide me some enlightenment, regarding what I should do in this situation or how my mindset should be 🙂

    1. Author

      There’s a lot going on here Ana!
      Firstly, congratulations on your opportunity!
      Secondly, I think you’re look at the USA through very rose-tinted glasses. Please do more research.
      Hopefully your family want what’s best for you, so guilt shouldn’t be factored in.
      Naturally, I can’t go into everything here as it requires a two way conversation! Here’s my one-to-one booking link to find out more and we will be able to work through it all there.

  5. This is a good article, and the comments are even perhaps more than good food for thought and great insight! I’m a middle aged expat with divorced aging parents. Father and new wife seemingly doing quite well keeping agile and able they have each other). My mother has not remarried and lives alone. Many years previously she helped out a sibling financially in a HUGE way and now that sibling is financially caring for our mom. Recently my mom had to leave her leased home and my sister moved her to live closer to her. It’s been about a month now and it is a strain on my sibling and her partner and on my mom settling in to a new area and home, etc.

    About a year ago, I was planning to return home to be closer to my mom and my sister told me not to come (shared a couple of reasons why I shouldn’t come home) and so I decided to stay put and signed an extended agreement with my employer. I have also currently signed a new lease on a property and am doing some buildout on it.

    I recently received a note from my sister’s partner telling me it is difficult and how much they are doing and asked if I could come home.

    I wrote my sister. She assured me that things will be ok. She said it is stressful and that she could use some help though, too…

    I get it all. I feel the difficulty and pain even at this distance. I also feel that my empathy could be/is perceived as insincere and placating… my commitment here abroad perceived as selfish. There is a tug at my heart, feelings of guilt, though quite honestly I am settling in here and building a life for myself here at this time… and I am happy with it.

    There isn’t an easy answer is what I am realizing… no rationalizing here… just sincerely trying to be honest, straightforward about intentions, and also to be willing and able to do what I can from my side here.

    1. Author

      Thank you for taking the time to share ❤ And yes, the other comments here are definitely a glimpse into this eternal matter!
      Sounds like either your sister or her partner aren’t being as straightforward as could be hoped. Someone’s struggling, or ‘playing the martyr’, but until honesty and vulnerability are admitted to, there’s not much can be done.
      And, of course, the pandemic isn’t helping, it it?
      I wish you all the very best.

  6. I’m starting to plan to move to Europe (I’m from South America) with my partner in the mid/long term but I have mixed feelings. I still haven’t said anything to my parents because nothing is certain yet, we just have the idea. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but I’ve had bad luck with my last jobs and never had enough stability to even save some money. My partner has been thinking it for a while now and it would be possible because he has the means so it started being a joint project. A few months ago I got a better job so I’m feeling better about that but still think about new possibilities. Of course I have fear and anxiety, my brother lives on another state, my dad has health issues and I’m afraid something will happen with any of my parents and I’m too far away.
    Also I love my partner but I keep thinking a lot of things could go wrong, we could break up, it can be difficult to find a new job, etc etc. I even would feel sorry for having to sell all my stuff after all the effort it took me to buy nice things for my apartment
    I also want to focus on my new job and these concerns are very distractng, considering it’s just an idea for the time being. How can I work on it without worrying beforehand and keep living my life here?

  7. I’m leaving in April for a new life abroad. What kills me is the doom and gloom of the family-thanks for the support and encouragement, not a characteristic in my remaining family -making this move all the more easier.
    While I lived a state away they never once came to visit but now they’re gonna miss me, oh get over yourselves.
    I’ll respect the opinions of those who’ve taken the leap however, I’m struggling to see how I’d ever feel guilty given the history.

    1. Author

      Hope you’re enjoying your new life abroad, Rob!
      Yes, the ‘not visiting family’ then the guilt tripping is very familiar to me. You’re making the right choice for you.

  8. My family makes me feel guilty all the time for moving away. They constantly say, ‘So, you’re never coming back?’ We both live in Europe, it’s not like there’s an ocean separating us. They never come and visit me either because they don’t like my partner because he’s from a different culture. They don’t realize that I have a lot more freedom here, I can go anywhere I want without asking anyone to drive me, I can visit new places and meet new people. In my old country I was mostly stuck at home with my parents. Whenever I would tell them I want to go see something new, they were against it. My family has been insisting I move back home into their house and leave my partner behind. They expect me to visit them a lot, but during holidays plane tickets get expensive and I also have to buy gifts, so the whole trip costs me a pretty penny.

    1. Author

      I’m sorry your family are doing this. As you can see from all the comments here, it’s a familiar story.
      A couple of thoughts… nobody can make another person feel something without permission. So stop allowing yourself to feel guilty 😉
      How much worse would you feel if you did what they wanted you to do?
      You have to be assertive; stand up for yourself. “So, you’re never coming back?”, you say “No”. And move on to a different topic. That’s it.

  9. Yes so much guilt 🙁 Been living the expat life for 11 years now but now at home the grandparents got into a care home, my mother has mental health issues since many many years, and my sister who was looking after all of them now loses her job thanks to covid. I feel I should go back and support but with covid everything is so unsure with settling back in a different country and finding a job and a place to stay. My life where I am is pretty nice and chill and I love it, even though I was thinking about a change to learn new things.
    I know guilt is a useless emotion but maybe not so useless… maybe its your heart speaking that you are not doing what you are supposed to do?
    I had planned to go back but had a mental breakdown/panic attack because of it and didnt. I feel incredibly guilty knowing my whole family suffers, and I am here living the dream.
    Its a tough one.

    1. Author

      Can you perhaps put your needs first for a bit? The fact you had a mental breakdown/panic attack when you considered going back proves that isn’t the right move for you, surely?
      So many people are suffering this year. Would you going back fix it all for everyone else? Your grandparents will sadly still be in a care home (where you may not be able to visit right now, anyway). Your mother’s mental health problems sound to have preceded your move – you didn’t cause them. I’m sorry for your sister, and I’m sure you can support her emotionally from afar.
      You feel guilt because you love them. However, you also didn’t cause their problems and those issues won’t magically resolve if you sacrifice your own happiness for duty.

  10. I am feeling guilty and have mixed emotions since January this year. My partner and I decided to move to Finland (his home country) as the work and life opportunities and balance there seem much more promising then Ireland, where we currently live. I moved here for work almost 5ys ago leaving my single mother in Croatia; 2ys after and she followed me here and has now a good job and a new,better life then back there. The present situation is that my partner and I want to move forward in life and unfortunately the house crisis in Ireland and the fact that I don’t have a stability in my profession (private school teacher a.k.a. self-employed) makes it really hard to plan anything further then what we have now. Therefore we thought a lot about Finland and when my partner got a great work offer we decided to go with it. I’m sad and scared to leave my mother behind, though she says she understands and maybe in 7ys she ll come there too, but still it’s a tough moment for all 3 of us. My partner, who supports me dearly, is already in Finland and because of the covid we can’t see each other until the forseeable future. At times I feel lost, and even tho I’m so looking forward to be reunited with him, I know my heart will cry out the day I’ll have to say goodbye to my mother.

  11. Hi , I have a younger sibling and I choose a person abroad and moved from my home country . But as days are passing I started feeling guilty not because my husband is not caring but most of the time i speak to my mom she says me that she misses me a lot . so listening to her i feel guilty and bad thinking was i selfish of my decision to move abroad with my husband ? I am not able to lead a happy life inspite of my husband being so supportive i always have that fear and I am always worried about my family back home . I speak to them over calls daily i assure them no matter what happens i wont care about budget and will visit you people I try not to reveal my feelings till date that i also miss them and if I say this they will feel emotionally weak . Also i dont want to trouble my partner as this keeps happening and he seems frustrated explaining me.What should i do to overcome my feelings I am married and my husband has his own dreams and responsibilities . I am feeling worthless and depressed of my guilty feeling .did i do anything wrong getting married and moving abroad. Please help?? also its been 8 months i moved from home country after getting married .

  12. Thank you for the article. The guilt is very real, and even when the effort is made to “talk” daily, we are always accused of not doing enough, coming home enough etc. Our families cannot understand that even though we live overseas, we do need vacations that are the immediate family and we cannot come home all the time. That said, no one ever comes to visit us.

  13. After living the entirety of my adult life (over 20 years) in my home state, I had an amazing job opportunity in Southern California. Before accepting the job, we made the decision as a family. We knew it would be challenging. We knew it would be drastically different. We knew we were leaving behind easy access to family, friends and our community. We were entrenched but at the end of the day – the opportunity was too good to pass up. It’s not out of the country but it might as well have been to hear how our families reacted. (It’s a 2.5- hour direct flight home.) I was also the sibling “left behind” to care for our aging parents and I did – for over 10 years and my mother passed away a year ago. So I would be leaving my father behind – which I still struggle with but at the end of the day, I had to be the individual my parents raised me to be – independent and with my own child to think about and her future. This move, while it has been hard at times, is something we are really excited about. Southern California wouldn’t have been my first choice but the opportunity is literally my dream job. My daughter knew what my dream job was. What kind of parent would I be, what kind of example would it set for her if I didn’t take the chance? Even if it “fails.”

    So while I’m trying to work through the guilt, justified or not, I remind myself that the same hopes and dreams I have for my daughter are the same my parents had for me (even if they’ve forgotten) – which was to pursue a life that I loved, work that brought me fulfillment and to leave the world better than I found it. This experience has taught me that I will fully support my daughter in her journey.

  14. I feel this “guilt” too. I got a job offer from outside my country and instead of feeling excited about it. I feel guilty, confused and even sad. I feel guilty because I will be leaving my parents(they’re already old ). My sister also left the country(migrated) for good just this May. I don’t know how to tell my parents and I don’t know if I can bare seeing them sad or worried. They may feel very sad knowing 2 of their kids left them when they’re already old. I’m torn.

  15. Guilt. Yes that is an appropriate response for being selfish. Being part of a family means sharing love and support. It is looking out for one another and comes with responsibility to one another. It is one thing to have to leave but choosing to do for excitement? The experience? Those are things one can gain from vacations to far away places, not making a life. When you choose to leave, you neglect your responsibility to everyone—-to your parents who will age and get sick and deny them the joy of grandparenthood— and to your siblings left holding the bag.
    More importantly, why did you have children of your own? It was to create a family. Why bother going through the sacrifices, expense and devotion if it is all just supposed to end because of family members individual desires—-that is selfishness. We all give up certain freedoms to become part of a marriage and so too do we give up certain freedoms to remain part of the whole. So it is, even when we become adults with our own lives. We move on not out. Leaving is moving out. You have hurt many people who made you their priority ( including your own children who must uproot) while you have made yourself the priority. So feel guilty. You deserve it. All the other comments saying otherwise are rationalizations. You have broken up a family and that is what you have taught your children. Expect the same one day.

    1. You sound really jealous and bitter. If the same happens to me someday awesome! I won’t hold them back if they want to leave

      1. I read the article at a time when my heart is heavy with the guilt you’re talking about. I got a job, a very good offer 3 month ago and I decided to take it. We prayed so much about it with my husband because this meant I would have to leave him and out daughter who is almost 3yrs old. We’ll, I left a month ago and I’m at my new workplace. Honestly, I have no problem at work. But my heart is in so much pain for leaving my family behind. I knew this would be the biggest sacrifice I have ever done in my life but the pain is too much. I think of quitting but again, things are not cosy at home. I want to work on a plan of bringing them here but that might take alot of time especially now that covid-19 has brought the world to a stand still. I feel bad. I don’t know what to do. I miss my family. Everytime I video call them I feel better but soon after the call I feel crushed.im in so much pain. I wish this can just pass. I think my performance at my workplace is also not good enough. My heart is breaking. I feel lost.

      2. Author

        This is heartbreaking to hear and I’m not at all surprised you’re feeling so sad.
        As you say, there is little you can do right now as COVID19 has closed the world down. Try to focus on the good stuff – your daughter is with a caring father, the internet means you can communicate.
        Is the new job for a set period of time, or open-ended? What can you do now to research and plan to help them move to where you are now? Keep making plans for the future, with the idea of bringing your family to you. It will help you feel in control.
        Good luck, stay positive.

    2. Denise, you said it yourself “Being part of a family means sharing love and support”. So, support your loved one’s decision to explore new opportunities in life. Love and support your grandchildren as they enter an exciting new chapter with a new culture and places and people. Love the opportunity it might bring for yourself to go travelling- perhaps to places you never imagined you would visit! This was not done to personally offend or hurt you, please embrace your family members adventurous spirit… you gave them that! Be proud, see their sacrifice too, see their achievement.

    3. You seem to have missed everything in the article.
      You’re telling me because, let’s say, someone’s mother was born and raised in a small town in the middle of the country where the rest of the family also resides that her child is going to want the same out of life? That her child, who is now grown, should settle to live somewhere they are not happy because the rest of the family settled? You can be a family without seeing each other everyday, every week, or every month. You’re saying excitement is only to be had during a vacation? What type of life are you living if the only way to excitement/experience is found during a vacation? Which is usually only allowed 1-2 weeks worth.
      Ultimately, every person has one life to live and they need to live it the way they choose. Whatever brings someone happiness so be it.

    4. It sounds like you’re a homebody who was or is about to be left behind by someone who wants to live their one and only life as they choose rather than as you choose. The world is here to be explored. There is life beyond the village. I hope whoever it is that leaves you, listens to their own heart and doesn’t stay because of your selfishness.

    5. Thank you Denise. I am a mother in her 60’s who misses her daughter terribly. I am proud of her career accomplishments abroad but now that she is about to become a mother herself, I am heartbroken. My other daughter and husband have decided to not have children. This will be my only chance at grandparenting. Skype isn’t going to do it. This child will never really get to know me or me him. Young children bond by spending time with them–holding, singing, comforting, feeding, etc. I will become a grandmother but won’t ever get to be one. I love my daughter but she recently also asked us for a “contribution” to the purchase of a house. We told her we can’t do both (visit her and pay for flights, hotels and food and help her with a house). However, I try to not impose guilt trips. I feel it will only make things worse. But she is no longer much a part of our family. She has made no room for even one family holiday to be with us. Although she did come here when her sibling was hospitalized following a terrible accident.
      I am torn. I try to be there for her–I flew there following a miscarriage of hers, but sometimes I feel like changing my Will to leave considerably less to her than her siblings. This article is about absolving Guilt but what about parents’ pain of abandonment?

    6. I am sorry Denise, but your comment is so judgemental and full of bitterness that it’s hard to read. You say that family comes with responsibility for one another. Fair enough. The thing is, while our parents chose to bring us to the world and take care for our education and well-being, we (children) did not sign up for this. This is a social contract we’ve never directly accepted – we are only learned to accept this as the “right way”. Obviously, most of people genuinely love their family and wants what is best for them. This naturally leads to the conflict between what we’ve learned is right and what we believe is the best for us. Many parents want their children to be independent. But what parents see as “independence” is usually some kind of path they wish their child would follow (they want it more or less consciously / expressively). As soon as the child doesn’t follow this path, well, this is when troubles can start. So as en expat it’s important to balance these things and choose what is the most important for you. Expatriation doesn’t have to be forever, it might be just a chapter and it’s crucial to be clear with your loved ones on what your plans are. For instance, I love to live abroad and could honestly go on living like these for years. I hate being in homogeneous environment, and even back in my home country I lived in a big city, always close to different international communities. I am not an expat because I thrive for some kind of selfish excitement – this is just the way of living that makes me feel sane. My parents and siblings feel great in our family town – and I think it’s amazing, I would never insist that they leave it. But I know that if I come back to my home town, I would quickly get depressed. Since I remember, I was dreaming about living in a big city and having a career. I’ve also came across a wonderful man who is currently my fiance. Not only he loves living abroad just like me, he’s of a different nationality than mine so we will probably live abroad for extended period of our lives. Do you really think it would be healthy for me to leave the person I love to please my parents? My parents who (sad and brutal but true) will pass away one day or another, leaving me with what? The guilt, loneliness and unsettled live? I feel a lot of guilt for leaving my family behind. Their countless remarks, questions when I will come back and lack of will to come to visit me is not helping. Their reality as young people starting their family was drastically different than mine, so I don’t blame them that they’re sometimes bitter about my decision and don’t really understand it. This is not what they expected, they get older, and they naturally fear for their well-being and who will take care of them when they get sick. I try to reassure them – I know I will be there if they REALLY need me. But the reality is, they don’t need me yet to do their groceries or have a meal together every Sunday. I know it’s nice to be there for birthdays and family reunions and I do my best not to skip the important family events. But what I learn abroad, overcoming cultural differences and my own fears and insecurities, is something I would never ever get if I stay in my country, in my safe place. I literally see myself changing, hopefully becoming more conscious and discovering how much work I still need to do to be stronger and more confident. I also learned to communicate better with my loved ones, be honest about my plans and reassure them that this is not forever and we still have many wonderful moments to live together. Well, that was a long shot, thanks everybody who read that. Good luck to all the expats out there.

  16. How about the sibling who has to take care of my family. This is not a fun thing to do… What do u feel if u see ur other sibling being a time zone away from ur family and not doing anything to ur family ?? Ur life is fulfilled but how about ur sibling ??? Have you ever thought of it ? Try being in their shoe. Yes she chose to be that way because it has to be that way. Cant imagine coming bk from somewhere seeing ur parents aged so much or have diseases they secretly hide from you. Not saying ur expat sibling has to come bk and take care the aging parents but please for once ur life isnt about “me,you,yourself”.

  17. hah, i did i quick google after an argument with my brother who is always saying i dumbed all the family, but ironically every time i am contacting him he is the one who desnt want to speak or communicate. I he is being selfish and makes me feel guilty. Soemtimes i dont enjoy my trip, bcs he makes me feel guilty about ti saying that i should have better sent that moeny to family an have less fun. LOL i am living my life and you are as well. I cannot spend all my energy and moeny for you guys, sorry but i have to live as well. It´s so frustrating soemtimes to not to give a fxxx about what they say, but i guess its impossible bcs they are family

  18. Thank you for the article. I think all those things to do for people you left in order to make them feel happy is wrong. I left my country one year ago and my parents and brother drain me like hell. So, i will not feed them. No, they are not part of my life anymore. They have to live their lives. Once im here still living and trying to please them, it feels that i did not leave actually. So, im not living there, or here. It is just horrible.

  19. Thanks for this article, very real and I agree with you that guilt is something that can’t be avoided. But I think that especially in the times we live in now where there is such a variety of choices, we shouldn’t be stopped by these feelings to try new things and look for something we think is better for us. After all we might come back to the place we left as fulfilled and happy individuals. Win win 🙂

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