The Balancing Act of Staying Connected
While you’re off living your glamorous life of jet setting across the world your family’s only connection to you, are your polished up photos on Instagram. Let’s hope this is not actually true.
Living abroad and staying connected with family is a constant balancing act. When you first leave or after a Christmas visit, you have the best intentions of staying in touch regularly. Promises of more visits are often made from both sides.
Our Good Intentions
Your intention of frequent contact and visits is genuine, you would love to spend more time with family but your demanding life abroad doesn’t always give you this luxury. Even though it looks like you’re jet setting, visiting temples and gorging on exotic foods, your day to day life is much more mundane and stress filled than the people back home could ever imagine. Unfortunately, regular trips back home to the family are time-consuming and costly.
Your family’s intention of visiting is also genuine but they also have lives and incomes to attend to. Making that trip to your end of the world can be costly, so regular trips are out of the question. We also need to remember that although getting on a plane and flying to unknown lands has become part of our normal life, it can be a bit scary and nerve wrecking to family members.
When Family Time equals Skype Time
Quality time with your family is often held on Skype. Skype time means: planning across time zones and dealing with challenging internet connections. It also means saving your stories and feelings of excitement and hardships to share within scarce moments of digital connection. Of course, when things are urgent we still find each other regardless of timezones. Unfortunately, these occasions are often reserved for times when we have less happy news. Messaging is our other alternative but despite the elaborate selection of emojis, a message doesn’t quite capture the feelings we want to share and messages are often misinterpreted or downplays our sensations.
It’s a constant balancing act, we want our family in our lives yet we also love our life abroad. We feel we should be around more or we hope family will visit more but that’s not the reality of how it plays out. From both sides, there are feelings of guilt and melancholy and we often wonder if these feelings could or should be solved by moving back ‘home’.
A Word to the Global Nomad
Yes, you will always feel torn between loving your life abroad and wondering if you should spend more time with family. Share that feeling with your family. Make sure they know it’s not easy for you either. Share your contentment with your life abroad as well as your moments of homesickness. Make sure they also know that you’re not ignoring them or keeping them at a distance on purpose, explain that it’s hard to balance all the different aspects of your life. Struggling with your balancing act is perfectly normal.
A Word to the Families ‘back home’
We love you just the same, whether you hear from us regularly or not. The physical presence in our connection has changed but the emotional connection has not. We often appreciate you even more, when we spend shorter more intense moments together. Honestly, if we’re constantly around we spend more hours together but not necessarily more quality time. If your loved ones abroad share their homesickness with you, know that that’s become a part of their life abroad and listen to them. Telling them the only solution is coming back home will not help them deal with it. Give them room to share these feelings without judgment. Share your feelings but don’t pressure them.
For both Global Nomads as well as Families: share your experiences, excitements, and hardships whenever you feel you need it. Do this both scheduled as well as spontaneously.
Gaby Kamp, Global Nomad Coaching