A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: I is for IDENTITY

To quote the movie Fight Club (1999): “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. …” Who are you then?

Losing one’s identity is one of the premier worries expats have when they face a decision of moving abroad:

  • Who am I going to be there?
  • What am I going to do with my time (for those who accompany their working spouses)?
  • What will I relate to… if anything?
  • What relationships will I form with people?
  • And what about financial independence?

This list of concerns can go on and on and, if you look closely, you’ll see that a lot of these questions relate to who we see ourselves as – and to how we preserve that in unfamiliar environments.

So how do we keep our identity and how do we feel good about ourselves wherever we may end up?  I believe the key here is our relationship with ourselves.  All too often moves and transitions produce feelings of doubt in our own abilities; feelings of guilt, feelings of low self-esteem; and feelings of “not being good enough, smart enough, etc.”  No matter what we call these feelings, they are all about the same thing — we stop liking and set out to criticize ourselves.  What kind of relationship is that?  How much do we damage this most important relationship in our lives — the relationship of us with us?

The regular criticisms and nagging also create the recurrent feelings of “I am losing myself”, “I am no longer who I was before”, “my identity is slipping away” and so on and so forth.  The self-critical mode takes over and it’s no wonder that we feel that our identity is no more.

Your thoughts?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

Remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, Expat Know-How and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.
If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

One response to “A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: I is for IDENTITY

  1. And interest? A sincere interest in the culture of the country you stay, in people, traditions, customs etc.

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