Expat Life

How Do You Know When It’s Time To Go Home?

November 28, 2016
Expat Abu Dhabi Teaching

What do you do when your heart and head both pull you in different directions?  What happens when you’re not ready for your adventure to be over but it’s not quite as simple as continuing on without consequence?

Though we’ve been here in Abu Dhabi for a little over a year and three months, today my school requested for us to inform them of our intentions for the end of the academic year.  Initially we signed a two year contract with the agreement that, though it would be great to have the option of staying for more than two years should we choose, that we would also go home if required.

Why would anyone be ‘required’ back home?  We’re both blessed and cursed by the lure of the family business (and of course, many other factors that are calling us home).

On one hand, Nathan’s incredibly fortunate to work so closely with his dad, brother and all of the other men in their business.  He has job security that most people only dream of and actively plays a role in something much bigger than either of us.  Working in the family business, from what I’ve seen as an outsider, is incredibly rewarding but, at times, all-consuming.

Every coin has two sides and where, on one hand, you are offered job security, on the other you’re tied into your commitments.  Stepping away from New Zealand has, without doubt, placed pressure on the team left behind – something we’ve both carried a fair bit of guilt over.  Whilst we’ve been off exploring, the team left back home have had to work harder.

But now, as our contract here is coming to a close, are we actually ready to go home?

Is it enough that by then we’ll have had an amazing two years of travel (far beyond I could have ever hoped for) and experienced massive personal growth?  That we’ve made friends with people from all around the world and live within the intricacies of a new culture and religion?

Should we be grateful for the experience and head off home, knowing that we’re incredibly fortunate and richer for being here?  Is it selfish to want to continue on this journey?  To want to see more of the world and to make the most of the financial freedom that we enjoy here in Abu Dhabi?

Of course we miss our family, friends and our cats (more than these words could ever do justice).  I hate missing out on milestones back home – by being here we’ve missed out on kids growing up and celebrations of love (I would have dearly loved to have been at a family wedding just this weekend been).   I miss my old school and our beautifully renovated home that we worked so hard to finish.  I know though, that if we leave, we’ll miss our life here too though…

‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard’ – Winnie the Pooh

That quote meant so much to me at the time of my dad’s passing (I’m tearing up just reading it back) but I think it stands true in this case too.  We’re so fortunate to have left a life in New Zealand that we loved so much and equally fortunate to have built a life (albeit a temporary one) here.

I am grateful and I know how lucky we are to have been given the opportunity to be here but I am also confused about what to do and a little heart-broken at the prospect of it being over, of life returning to normal.

So, what all that said, where to next?  I’m really not sure.

We’ve talked about heading up to Europe for a while to explore from a new base (the most exciting option), about staying put here in Abu Dhabi for another year (which financially makes the most sense) and, of course, we’ve had many discussions about heading home.

People tell me that we’ll know when I’m ready to head home and if we’re not strongly feeling the pull that maybe it’s too soon?  Others have said that there will always be another opportunity to head overseas – to give New Zealand another go and play it by ear.

All I know right now, is that I’m mightily confused.  Still, there are worse things in life than having too many choices.

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