Expat Chronicles travel united kingdom United States

The Inadequate Expat

In an effort to be more transparent, I wanted to post about a subject I’ve been journaling about for the last few weeks, being inadequate.

If you’ve followed me on Instagram, I’m guessing my subtext (or perhaps lack there of ) shows quite clearly that I’ve been wavering on my abilities to be the best. Not the best there ever was or will be (though I’m not opposed to it), but being the best me by excelling, whatever that means. It’s been hard. Really hard. Not because of my Capricorn like traits (if you believe in that sort of stuff) but because of all the changes happening in my life. The biggest of them all, becoming an American expat in the UK.

The people that know me know that I’ve been pushing for my dream of moving to London for years. I wanted to be an expat as early as 2012 but I didn’t truly make a move until 2016. From that point, my life trajectory was in a state of flux. Traveling back and forth from NYC to the UK, developing a new relationship, trying on new careers, developing different skills; all of this was done while I was busy trying to make my dreams come true. Through a random happening of events and following my ambition, it did come true. Not in a way I expected yet still the most magical of happenings.

With all that magic however, there are changes abound that make being and feeling your most confident self at all times, pretty difficult.

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To believe in yourself whole heartedly, at every moment of every day can be challenging.

One moment I’m telling myself that I’m awesome, a positive affirmation trick that can help you fake it until you make it. And the next, the doubt comes crawling in. Something I did was not quite up to snuff. I forgot an important date. I’m not keeping in touch with friends and family back at home enough. It can all be challenging. It’s a challenge that I want and have accepted. But it’s still doesn’t make any less difficult.

I’m always someone that looks at the bright side but becoming a full fledged expat is hard. It’s not just the paperwork but the process of finding your normal all whilst maintaining and building new relationships. This doesn’t include getting used to the nuances in how people communicate or the way basic things function (what is council tax and why do I pay for my train according to the time I travel?).  It can feel overwhelming, to the point where you wonder if you ever measure up. To anything.

What do I do when I feel in a funk, like I’m miserably failing or someone who just can’t cut it? As noted, I try the positive affirmation route. I’ll write down words to explain how awesome I am (privately of course). I’ll journal about issues that seem to be clouding my brain, slowly working through why I feel that way and how I may be making a mountain out of a mole hill. I’ll take a break and go to the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror and say what’s bothering me to my face (I’m not crazy, it can help). I talk to someone who can hear me out and listen to their perspective. There are many ways but those few are ones that help the most.

Despite this, being an expat is a wonderful thing. The doubt surges through you every now and again but in life, most people can expect to experience doubt or question themselves no matter their situation (be it in a familiar place and job or in a new country). What’s important to remember is that you’re not inadequate. Things take time. Making friends take time. Getting into a new work rhythm takes time. Find your new life takes time. You may think there’s only so much time you get before you need to be “perfect” but there really isn’t. Keep pushing and soon, you’ll find that you aren’t inadequate and that you’re doing just fine.

Have you ever had these feelings? Was it as an expat or as a regular old human trying to adult? How do you cope? Let me know in the comments.

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