Hello Internet! I’m back!
I’ve been an Expat in Dubai for a little over 4 years now, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. It helped me grow personally and professionally, made me meet new people from all over the world, made me realize how strong I can be in hard times (which I didn’t know I was), and I could go on for hours about all the positive things about being an Expat.
There are of course some parts that are not as great and one of them is friendships. In my few Expat years I realized how hard it is to maintain friendships home and how harder it can be to make new “real” friends in the country that “adopted” you, especially when you’re in your 30s. So let’s break this down shall we?
As an expat, I constantly have this feeling that I’m missing something important back home. I have already missed my first friend’s wedding, I’m going to miss another very important one next week, and because I live within 8 hours’ flight from Morocco I know for a fact that I will miss many other important events in my long time friends’ lives. I’m not talking about the occasional WhatsApp messages, Facebook “likes” or birthday wishes here and there. I’m talking about the real deal, being physically present when everyone is planning your bride to be friend’s bachelorette party, or when everyone is going on a getaway to Marrakech for your other friend’s wedding weekend, and I’m not even talking about family, that’s a subject for a whole other post.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my expat life. The feeling of always being out of your comfort zone and the growth it brings are what I was looking for when I first decided to do it. However, the new friendships you make at work, the gym or the singing class; as rich and enjoyable they can be; they would always be considered “temporary”. You meet new people, you let them in your life because you’re in the same situation, you might have similar interests, you have the “Expat Connection”, they are the kind of friends to hang out with on ladies’ night or on double dates, but they’re not the ones you have on your emergency contact.
Then at some point they move away to another country or back home and you have to begin the same cycle again, and when you’re in your 30s or 40s you don’t want to go through that cycle. When you’re at that stage of life, you value your time so much that you get picky about who you spend it with. The older we get, the less bothered we are about winning any Miss Popularity awards. By the time we reach our mid 30s (in 3 years Yey me!) and definitely by 40 (so I’m told), we no longer care about how many friends we have on Facebook or how many people we have around us for brunch on the Instagram picture we post. We are more secure in our minds and our bodies, so we no longer seek approval from the “In crowd” and we value quality over quantity.
I’ve been blessed with long-life friendships before I left Morocco (that I’m trying to maintain as hard as I can), and I’m blessed today with very few people I can call friends in Dubai, at this point I’m comfortable with who I am and I’ve got nothing to prove. I don’t do forced conversations, forced friendships, forced interactions, I simply do not force anything. If we don’t vibe, we just don’t vibe.
Cheers to the place we are yet to go to!