If the title caught your attention , then most probably you might be in your 30’s and I presume that reading that sentence create a certain churn in your stomach, you nod in recognition and mostly, you have a quirk smile. Why ? Because you knew this feeling.
Why is it HARD for an Expat to make friends after 30?
Do you also have a hard time having friends on your new country?
It’s the sense of recognition when you knew you’re not the only one who is experiencing this . I haven’t really figured this out myself not until I was in the same situation. When you read about it or hear that somebody else is having the same thing as you, you felt more curious. This paranoia is indeed real.
You become OUT of SIGHT.
As an Expat , i knew exactly how friendships goes out of sight. In my post ” Being an Expat is Hard” i touched on the subject that Relationships gets the hardest lag when you moved from your home country to another place. You see, as we get older ,along the way there’s so many changes happening like a big move for work & career, marriage, having a baby, pursuing graduate studies,Divorce, and so on. So much, that it caught us unaware in realizing that we begin to lost friends. Those Best of Friends. I’m talking about real friendships. Those BFF’s! The strong relationship you’ve had when you’re in your teens that went up for years. Those kind of person who sticked it out with you for real. Those whom you went to kindergarten up to High School and eventually hooking up again in College. Someone who could bring you home when you got too drunk from partying. Someone who was there with you on rough days. Who lend out a hand when you are totally down and the same friend who cheer with you when you won on that Literary contest. That friend you always have in your Speed dial and Favorites,long before the smartphones existed. But these people suddenly becomes out of sight.
It’s remarkable how common an experience this is: Making friends in your 30s is significantly harder than making friends earlier in life. Do you remember how quick you win friendship in your school’s playground? Almost as remarkable is how little warning I had that this was coming. Nobody told me that when i reached 30, having friends is pretty hard as looking for pearls. There’s plenty of books that tells you what to expect when you get to college, there’s even more about what to expect when you get pregnant. But how to make friends when you become an Adult? let alone as an Expat? The process is more than just a self-read.
You become OUT of REACH.
People suddenly become out of Reach. Our story is not unusual. When we are at 30’s and 40’s, plenty of new people enter our lives, through work, children’s play dates and, of course, Facebook. Social media makes you ever present anywhere but totally physically absent. The actual close friends — the kind you make in college, the kind you call in a crisis — those are in shorter supply. As an Expat, the challenge of new surroundings is another thing. If you are single, you are eager to meet new people. You are most likely to meet fellow Expats who are totally of different culture from what you have. At work you are surrounded with people who are overly competitive that they don’t disclose much of their private lives. Part of their personality remains under the box. Its hard to assess who they are over a few drinks or dinner. When you are in this age, you become out of reach.
It’s hard to reach out to people when they don’t want you to go deeper in their lives.
You become OUT of TOUCH
As an Expat you always have the feeling that you are missing something way back home. But because of the toll of new responsibilities, you cannot just follow through your friendships. I am not talking about a few pokes in Facebook or the ever present Happy Birthday greetings in their walls ,or the number of likes you do on their posts. Not being physically present is the real deal. Although you have created a new life when you become an Expat, those new friends you’ve made would always be regarded as “KOF’s “or Kind of Friends. You accepted them in your life since you don’t want to wear yourself out from tedious way of gaining friendships (You know very well that time is the true test of any relationships) .You don’t want to make another laborious effort in reaching out. It’s another thing when they move on to another place and they left you. You begin the same cycle again. Ever met the parents of your child in Kindergarten? You only became friends with them because your child loves to hang around with their child. You are connected with a link but actually, you don’t really get them.
If you are in your 30’s and you’re still single, you might be trapped in an oblivion. Most of the friends you knew have a different routines and interests from you. A mother would not be constantly be available to grab a drink with you & catch up if she is engulfed with family duties. At this age, you already become wary of the stage of handling relationships and its failures. You knew exactly how to get over it since you’ve been through it all already.
So what can you do when you’re in this dilemma? Do you still make an effort ?
I am giving you my side of my story in this. I have been through all of this. For years that I have been living as an Expat, I have seen so many people come and go. From work , or from the flat i used to lived with. You can’t help this since this is the natural course of life. There’s a saying that keeps me on track : No one is indispensable!
On new people coming into my life, Here’s how I keep my sanity & what i have learned to lived by :
“I don’t like forced conversations, forced friendships, forced interactions, I simply do not force things. If we don’t vibe, we don’t vibe..”
I’m grateful that i have found best friends in my life that I have known for years. They are still and will always be my friends despite the miles that we are apart. I treasure every single time i have shared with them and it’s enough that i had the chance to even met them in my life.
What about you? What’s your story?