You had something in your home country. Probably a good career. A great social life. An amazing supportive family. You knew where to go when you or someone you love needed something. Who to call. Where to complain.
As expats, we usually start lots of things again. Learning the language, meeting new people. Memorizing the names of the streets, the numbers of the buses, the schedule of the trains. We can’t remember the name of that street (and GPS doesn’t help either.), we missed the bus, we forget those three words we memorized before going to the supermarket.
The job search of course. You have your degree (s), work experience, speak a couple of languages (but not the one spoken in the country you are now) … and it’s still not enough! Networking is exhausting! They rejected my CV and didn’t even read it!
AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH (that’s you shouting out of frustration)
Back home everything was so easy!
Now many things that I took for granted there, cost me an enormity here!
The relationship is not going through the best time; you imagined something and it’s turning to be completely different!
Ok, I could go on and on and on right?
I know what you feel! I’ve been there! Frustration was (and sometimes still is, I must admit) by my side way more than I wanted.
What is frustration? It comes from anger (An underrated emotion if you ask me… but that, some other time) and when we add the negative thoughts (especially towards ourselves) the outcome is frustration.
Because you try and try and try and still can’t learn the language, drive by yourself to the city centre without getting lost, find and keep friends, find a job. The list could be so long. You stay positive, disciplined, focused… and nothing (as you see it)
The thing is, my dearest expat friends, you are achieving things. Every day that you are in this new land and learn something about you and the world surrounding you, it’s a gain. You are feeling frustrated because it’s not the way you want to/it “supposed” to be.
I know it is hard to be patient! I’m telling you, I still have a hard time to remind myself that patience comes a long way. I’m giving you some tips to cope with this unpleasant emotion.
How to cope with expat frustration?
The best way to feel relieved, is to express it. Anger is a very powerful and energizing emotion, but when we direct this to ourselves, it’s dangerous. So let it out, by:
– Doing something physical: go and run, walk fast, ride your bike. Sweat!
– Shouting! Yes, you read correctly, shout! If the moment is not “socially appropriated” to shout, then go to the bathroom and cover your mouth and “shout quietly.” At home, a pillow always works for me!
– Accept it. It is hard. It is a pain to do all those things and not getting any results… yet…
– Focus on your achievements. They are maybe not exactly what you wanted to get, but that doesn’t make them less valuable!
– Time to change the strategy? If you are feeling like this, it’s because the methods to do what you are doing are not working. What about a plan B. Get creative! That crazy idea that you though a couple of days ago, maybe it’s time to try it?
– Don’t blame yourself, please! It’s not your fault. Be kind and ask yourself: what can I do to make MYSELF feel better?
– Of course, repeat and repeat my beloved mantra: emotions are not good or bad, even the unpopular ones are providers of information.
Reminders to you, that are feeling frustrated right now:
1.-Language… you are learning a new language! A new one! A difficult one! Yes, it is difficult not to sound like a caveman at the beginning… but hey! You sound like a caveman IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE! How cool is that?
2.- Job… you haven’t found anything yet… but you have refined your CV, you’ve learned about LinkedIn, job platforms. You are probably networking like never before!
3.- The relationship is not going the way you wanted it. What about seeing what is doing well? You are both probably under a lot of stress, you because you feel frustrated, your partner because he sees you are frustrated and he/she can’t help you the way he/she wants to. Acknowledge the love you have for each other and bear in mind this is temporary; it will get better!
Troubles getting out of this frustration loop? If you are struggling with this or other expat-challenges, reach out and let’s talk. You are not alone!
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By your side,
Gabriela Encina is an online psychologist specialized in expat women and supports them with the guidance and tools they need to feel confident, make the best decisions for their lives, build and maintain meaningful relationships and prioritize their well-being.
Her approach is practical, solution-oriented and focused on the present.
Gabriela offers counseling to expat women in Spanish, English and German.