Sitting on the plane, taxing towards the run-way and our flight home – to Stockholm.
It still feels weird saying that. Home is Stockholm. It isn’t Edinburgh or Scotland, or even the UK. It’s a country I didn’t even know much about up until 12 years ago.
The last four years of life in Sweden has been a fog of integration and assimilation. Am I accepted? Do I fit in? Learning a language less than roughly 0.14% of the world’s population uses. Redefining identity, self worth, unlearning and learning hundreds of thousands of social norms, cultural cues and unwritten rules.
Sitting on the plane, taxing towards the run-way and all I can think is “is it worth it?”
Is this four year long, self-indulgent social experiment I’ve been playing with myself worth it? Life in a foreign country. Am I happy? In 50 years time, will I sit in my nursing home lounge (probably demented) and think “wow, I squeezed the juice out of that one”.
Of course, this rather self-centred conversation is probably the most commonly internalised issue amongst most expats and immigrants. If anyone ever tells you that making a life in a foreign country is as simple as learning the language and getting a job, slap them and walk away. Slap their delusional small mindedness into reality. There is no such thing as the neatly drawn bell curve of life abroad. There is no start and end point to becoming integrated. Instead I like to think of life abroad as a hideous swirling spaghetti mess of ups and downs, outs and ins, highs and lows, joys and catastrophes – as life should be, but with the torturous question hanging, “what if things were different?”
My latest trip back home to Scotland has me in a tail spin. Life in Sweden currently feels like I’m banging my head against a pumice stone; it’s painful but there is nothing to show for it. Nothing seems to be working out as I had envisioned and the battle to see anything through just keeps getting longer.
Do I even want this anymore? What am I getting out of it. Am I fulfilled? Am I happy? I feel exhausted with life in Sweden. I feel exhausted with running a freebie business. I feel exhausted having this conversation. Would I feel like this if I had continued living in my home-country?
Repatriation requiem. The emotional rollercoaster that every single expat, working immigrant and migrant must experience. Right now I am not ok with life abroad. The fog is pretty dense. Lifted by intermittent joys.
Perhaps I’m just exhausted after week long trip home, single parenting and a busy schedule. Maybe it is just because I’m struggling professionally with a lack of purpose at the moment. Or, it could just be PMT. But, regardless of those contributing factors, I still feel uncertain about my future in Sweden. Is it worth it?