It is astonishing what a difference a day makes. I had been back in the country for only 48-hours, high on the optimism after the successful inauguration of a new President. I felt with such certainty that this year was going to be great. This year was going to be smoother. Then the attacks in Ouagadougou started the evening of 15 January 2016 and lasted until the next morning – my birthday. In a moment, so many people´s lives were thrown upside down. I have to be honest, the first week was really rough. During the first seven days I grappled with the classic phases of shock, sadness, denial, and bargaining – and I have learned an incredible amount. It´s been an emotional roller coaster, to say the least.
In the last week I´ve heard over and over, “The old Ouaga is gone” or “Things have changed.” I knew based on my own comfort zone, options and priorities that change was on the horizon for my family as well.
The most significant change for me personally is that I will be saying a tearful goodbye to my husband, the friends I so cherish, and Burkina Faso the first week of February so my boys can finish out the school year in Switzerland.
Knowing what I know about transitions, I expect this next phase of my life to be rich in big challenges, simple joys, teeth-clenching frustrations and – above all – deep learning. Dealing with uncertainty, managing separate households, keeping a relationship strong despite the distance, supporting kids to integrate in a new school during in the middle of a school year, and maintaining both physical and emotional resilience are just a few of the challenges ahead. This is expat life.
Heaven forbid should you experience such an abrupt or shocking change in your life such as sudden job loss, a natural disaster, a diagnosis, a change in corporate strategy or even a big shift in family priorities. The raw truth, though, is that these “shocks” are part of life – and ever present possibilities for expats. I know deep down that what I am learning from this experience can be of service to you in the future.
What I am excited about – when it comes to working with my clients this year – is that this move opens up massive opportunity to serve in more ways, such as webinars, teleclasses, face-to-face with Swiss and neighboring clients, and simply rely on a great Internet connection. If you are unaware of just how frustrating the turtle-paced Internet can be in Burkina, you’re invited to have a laugh at my expense when you read my article Expat Life is a Pain in the A** . Right now I´m taking my own advice in the article on how to work through some of the “tough stuff.” Feel free to check it out if you’re feeling like things are getting just a tad too hard.
The first steps of a new path are, by definition, uncertain. I willingly acknowledge that some things will go better than expected while other things will be harder than I thought. Accepting this is half the battle won. (tweet that!)
Over the next few weeks, while I am apartment hunting, answering tough questions from my children, sneaking in a few client calls and unpacking boxes, I´ll continue to share with you fresh insight on international life. You´ll be getting an article and podcast that I´ve been keeping up my sleeve – so at least that is perfect timing.
Don´t hesitate to reach out at any time. I will get back to you as I can.
Here is to riding the wave of abrupt change.