dinsdag 6 september 2011

Manne's World: The Ten Year Itch

Approaching the tenth anniversary of life abroad is very confrontational. One is confronted with the symptoms of a directional crisis. The weight of choices and the passage of time occupy the minds and conversations of peers. Several factors dominate what seem like important life choices. The aging and mortality of parents who live in the home country, especially when, like many middle class families, yours is depends on the income of a family business. Marriage and childeren raise the equally important question of what kind of society you want your childeren to grow up in and what kind of environment and values you want to surround them with in their formative years. The flow of friends and family members who remigrate grows and as they share their experiences, very few sound dissapointed.

The most surprising thing is that those of my friends who remigrate never make that choice for the obvious, frivolous reasons. The majority doesn't spend their time partying or hanging out in nature. They are urban professionals and trail blazers in their field. They innovate and illuminate their chosen fields with a mix of diversified experience and youthful spirit. Another surprise is how ready the current leadership seems for change, imput and feedback. There is obviously room for growth. It seems the very reason that brought them abroad manifests itself and reemerges once they settle back home. It is a beautiful process.

How come that the break follows after ten years abroad? For one, even the slower students and late bloomers complete their studies after this time. The quick learners have ample experience by then. The absolute prodigies are presented with extraordinary opportunities, which, usually require a cosiderable commitment, such as partnership, tenure or elective office. These choices, however lightly one might think about it, seem to have a most definitive character at the time that you make them.

Another reason is the relationship status. The wild bachelors of a couple of years back are now young fathers, grooms to be or living together with their long term girlfriends. Important relationship milestones arise from practical matters such as purchasing a first home, and the obvious alternative of starting to build one in your native country. As mentioned before, pregnancy is often a game changer. The need for family support for working parents points you in that obvious direction.

The final straw often comes from goals achieved. A steady job, relative financial stability, a resemblance of family life or a close knit social circle, clarity about immigration status all seemed far off in the future, but once materialised, open up that other option. Returning to that place of youthful hapiness to recapture a life that now seems desirable in its simplicity. Especially when the everyday struggle adds to your stress levels and you long for a feeling of freedom that you vaguely realize is not to be found anywhere but home.

To all of my dear friends who have had the courage to take that step, I salute you and wish you the best of luck. If through our travels we get seperated, remember that you are heroes in my eyes.

Man Manne

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