5 Reminders To Help You Overcome Your Guilt About Moving Abroad

Photo by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash

Have you ever considered living abroad for a period of time?

The idea is enticing for a growing number of people, both young and old.

You’d only need to look at the following to realize this:

  • The plethora of “Top 10” videos on YouTube related to living and working abroad
  • Instagram posts with exotic scenery that garner hundreds of likes
  • The increasing prominence of travel blogging
  • Popular Facebook groups for people considering teaching abroad
  • I could go on…

Still…How likely are you to actually follow through with this dream?

I was filled with tremendous guilt about moving to Cairo, Egypt.

I’d been contemplating this move for over a year. I felt that my decision would be a disappointment for my family who would miss me, and who would be concerned about my safety.

I also didn’t have a solid plan when I decided to move. I felt irresponsible for my decision, especially because I had a good amount of student loan debt.

How, then, did I overcome my guilt, and push myself to take this major step in November 2019?

A beautiful sunset near downton Cairo.

Dealing with the guilt of leaving everything behind can be an emotional journey.

The following 5 reminders have helped me cope with these feelings.

1. You’re Not Responsible For Others’ Emotions

I felt so guilty about leaving that I waited two weeks before I left to Egypt to tell my mom, who I was living with at the time, that I was moving abroad.

If you have as close a relationship with your family members as I did, you’d understand how terrifying it can be to break the news of your move to them.

It’s specially daunting if you support them emotionally, financially, psychologically, etc.

You must realize, though, that you’re not the only person responsible for them. They’re adults and they need to learn how to cope with their lives.

I know this can sound harsh, but often times, we create these roles and responsibilities in our mind that we were never expected to fulfill in the first place, but that have become normalized.

Don’t allow exterior or self-generated emotional manipulation to keep you from pursuing your desire to live in a different place.

2. Not Everyone Has The Opportunity To Travel

Many Egyptians are filled with curiosity when I tell them I’m an American who WILLINGLY chose to live in Egypt.

Most Egyptians dream of traveling outside of their country. Their opportunities are limited, however, both because of financial limitations but mostly due to the difficulty of getting a visa to enter other countries.

Many of us, especially those who live in the U.S. or Europe, have a passport that allows us entry to most countries around the world virtually for free.

Why not, then, take advantage of this great priviledge, and explore the rich world around us?

3. Living Abroad Is Not As Expensive As You Think

If you’re worried about your living expenses while abroad, you’re certainly smart to do so. Most people cannot secure a job opportunity before making the move to expat life.

That being said, living expenses are so cheap in many countries that it’s not as big of a deal breaker as you’d imagine.

I live in a two-bedroom flat which costs me approximately $250 USD per month in a relatively decent area. Compare that to $700 USD for renting one bedroom within a three bedroom house back in the states.

Living abroad is financially possible, and you don’t need to be rich.

The key is to do research, determine what you’re willing to live with or without, set a target dollar amount, and start saving!

4. Your Experiences Abroad Will Expand Your Mind

Author and speaker Tony Robbins notes that happiness comes from growth.

Few experiences can make you grow as fast as living in another country with systems, customs, and infrastructure completely different from those back home.

My own experiences abroad have stimulated tremendous growth within me. I’ve become aware of new ways of thinking and of doing things, and I’ve learned to be resourceful and creative when it comes to resolving different issues.

Frustrating situations provide you with the perfect setting to challenge yourself, which is what we as humans crave — to evolve our mindset and expand our awareness of what is possible.

5. You Can Always Come Back Home

I’ll admit I have a pretty fatallistic way of thinking, and I attribute this mostly to my anxiety.

I can therefore undestand that you might see moving abroad as a point of no return, a sort of “Crossing of the Rubicon.”

But who says it has to be…?

Barring some catastrophic war or alien invasion, if your experience abroad is less than spectacular, or you’re struggling to cope emotionally or financially, you can take your credit card and book your ticket back home in less than 10 minutes.

You’re family will welcome you back with arms wide open.

Your job or some other similar job will be right there waiting for you.

When you move abroad, you’re not severing ties — you’re creating new ones. You’re simply exploring new territories and possibilities.

And if your ego is persuading you that coming back home or to your old job will prove to everyone that you’re a failure, perish the thought. Most people will look at you with admiration for your boldness.

And if they criticize you, it’s a reflection of them — not of you.

Very rare shot of empty Cairene streets.

People live under vastly different circumstances, and I’m aware that many responsibilities cannot be easily disposed off.

Nevertheless, I want to encourage you to evaluate your life, and to really analyze whether the obstacles you’re creating in your mind that make it impossible to move abroad are actually as big as they seem.

Remember that our minds can sometimes blow circumstances way out of proportion.

If you feel called to make a move a broad, at least for a short period of time, I dare you to follow your intuition.

More often than not, you will not regret it if you push past your fears, do the research, and just take it one step at a time.

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