This morning my teenage daughter talked about FOMO. Fear of missing out. A typical teenage acronym, but a hard reality for expats. Studies show that experiencing FOMO can increase feelings of frustration, anxiety and mental exhaustion. Add being an expat into the mix and the level of “missing out on things” is inevitably high. You can start to feel some serious FOMO. Expats have made the tough decision to step away from everything they know to start over in a new country and/or culture. One of the bravest steps in life, which takes courage and determination.

I watch “Wanted down under” on BBC 2. A programme that portraits couples, who want to move to Australia or New Zealand. They go for a week and see different aspects of life abroad. What house is available for their budget and the expenses of daily life. What jobs they can get and what schools/sports clubs are there for the kids. After a week they get to make a choice, but only after they have watched what loved ones have to say. Will it be a stay or go?

What I also like is the programme “Wanted down under revisited”, where they take a look into the lives of previous participants to see if they actually went. It is fascinating to watch what happened when they did move and how it affected their lives, most often in a positive way as they are looking for a better life.

The hard reality of leaving loved ones behind is always highlighted. Missing out on births, weddings’ or other important events is the hard reality of leaving your life behind. Not to mention the fact that it can feel like everybody back home is moving on with their lives and where does that leave you? Expat FOMO is real en it is really hard.

Cat drawing a family constellation in Bosbad, Amersfoort
Cat drawing a family constellation in Bosbad, Amersfoort

Making a big life decision is not taken lightly, it comes at a cost. Are you lonely at times? Does it feel like you are missing out? That is a perfectly normal feeling, but it sucks at the same time. What can you do to deal with it? My simple answer, just give yourself time to grieve. You will simply not be able to attend everything you want to and having a good cry, yes even for guys I would say, cry, will give a sense of relieve. The heart needs to release the tension in order to make room to heal and come to terms with your decision.

The down side is that this feeling, will keep popping up every now and again. You might think you have worked through it and that time will make it better. However emotions are like ebbs and flows, they are different every day. Even different minute to minute.

Embrace where you are now and make new friends and experiences. The people who are meant to stay in your life will stay and make the effort. Also plan visits or zoom calls, make an effort to stay in touch with the people who matter the most to you.

My final tip would be to find a coach and find out what your FOMO triggers are and how you can deal with them. That will help you in ways you have not thought off. You need to know that you are so much stronger then you think. By moving abroad, you have gained so much experience already. Take the next step to grow and learn.