How I Became My Home
Ten years into her expat life, Expat Nest founder Vivian Chiona reflects on what “home” means to her… and comes to an interesting conclusion.
This year marks a decade of my being an expat and I see now that I’ve felt between homes for all this time. Only recently did I realise that this feeling of belonging everywhere and nowhere has created a subtle but constant pressure in my life.
I guess the “where is home?” question is a burning one for most expats. For me, the answer kept changing. Sometimes it was Greece, other times Holland, or even ‘the international bubble’ (because being around other expats/internationals often gives me a sense of home).
But recently I changed my way of seeing things. I realized:
– I love my travels and adventures abroad as much as I love going ‘home’, however it is defined in the moment.
– I’ve been carrying around nostalgia, melancholy and resentment. This often had me longing for home… and then I’d want to get back as soon as I got home! Perhaps this is because expat life can have an unreal quality to it, as if every experience is temporary, which means times of complete satisfaction can be fleeting.
– My sense of home has shifted, as happens to many expats. More recently, while going through a difficult time in my life, and losing almost everything I had taken for granted, my foundations – and any sense of home – have been shaken. And at that very point came one of the deepest insights I’ve ever had…
… I have become my home!
How? I became my home by:
- Acknowledging that the ‘home question’ was there, yet trusting the answer would come one day. And until it did, I needed to accept the ambiguity, know that I was where I was meant to be, and get the most out of the situation.
- Similarly, not trying so hard to find the answer to where home is. Sometimes clarity comes not from thoughts but from engagement. In doing things that meet my current needs (and desires), the answer often comes.
- Feeling immense gratitude for all I have ever had and for all I have now.
- Projecting less into the future (five-year plans, be gone!). Today, if I have fears about my future, I try to replace them with more functional thoughts. I visualise the future I wish for and then ask myself, “What is the next right move in the right here, right now?” In this way I try to keep moving ahead, rather than stay stuck.
- Raising my standards for ‘right here, right now’, the only thing I have for sure.
- Having the courage to express myself (my thoughts, feelings, nostalgia, confusion) to people I trust.
- Last but not least: making myself a priority.
Yes, I became my home and this makes me feel more real; it gives me a sense of belonging, a solid foundation. It has also given me the opportunity to truly connect almost everywhere I go, and however I spend my time.
At the end of the day, each of us is on our own path and challenged with our own unanswered questions. Why I am sharing this with you? Perhaps my journey will give you insight and inspiration to continue with your journey, just as I got inspiration from others…
What does ‘home’ mean to you? How has your experience of home shifted? We’d love to hear what you think.
If you like this article, subscribe to our newsletter and share these tips with someone who is also searching for answers to the ‘home question’.
Photo: Artem Beliaikin / Pexels
8 commentsWrite a comment
This is so helpful and perfectly articulates how I’ve been feeling for years, thank you!
Thank you so much Sherill!Glad you find this article valuable.
WOW, so I am not the only one feeling this way!
I have NOT become me home YET, but am working at it.
One day I will get there ;-))
Thx Vivian for sharing!
Thanks so much for your enthusiastic feedback; glad that you find this article inspiring and valuable. I hope it gives you insights to help you go to the next level.
In your previous post, you’ve asked how I came up with this is insight. Besides the tips I share on the article above, I think it was important to realize that this is a process which means that it has a beginning,a middle and an end; that any difficult emotions through this process will pass.
Also, I didn’t go through this process alone; I had asked the support/guidance of a wise counsellor who helped me pull through when things were confusing and take the next step. Perhaps that would be something to consider.
Last but not least, through this process you may come up with a different answer of what home is to you. Regardless of how you define home, what matters the most is to find peace with this new insight and to be able to enjoy your life without ‘something always missing’ (yes you are not alone! Definitely!)
Thanks for being a valuable member of the Expat Nest community,