Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

What I learned as an expat benefits my writing life

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Living overseas as an expat for most of my adult life has definitely shaped me. Not only has it affected who I am as a person and how I see the world, but it has also taught me many life lessons that I apply to everything I do. As I embark on this new chapter in my life, navigating my life as a full-time writer, I am fortunate that my experience as an expat will be helping me tremendously. While living abroad, I have learned to follow my heart, listen to my intuition, have faith that everything will work out in perfect timing, and be confident that I can handle whatever comes my way. Me, My Heart, and I :: What I learned as an expat benefits my writing life

Maybe I would’ve learned these lessons had I remained in California, but I think they might have been easier to learn when I get out of my comfort zone. By moving to a new place without a support system, you discover that you have a lot to learn about your new home, the people, the culture, the language and the lifestyle. It takes a lot of patience, but you have to make your way in your new home and create a new life for yourself.

When you are an expat, you have to be quick on my feet. I doubt you can ever prepare yourself enough before moving overseas. Once you unpack your bags in your new home, you are as ready as you’ll ever be. And basically, you have to learn quickly “sur le tas” as the French say, which means “by doing.”

The expat life has also taught me a lot about how to be self-sufficient, resourceful, and independent. I feel that my new life as a full-time writer is basically the same. I have to rely on myself and build up my own inner strength. Even if I have people I can turn to, I have to look inside for the answers and go with what feels right to me.

The grand prize for an expat is not based on the number of years you can survive in another country. The reward is being able to live overseas with an open heart. For me, it’s also about embracing each day as it comes and discovering more about the world around me, and becoming my true self. The reward for a writer is the writing. For me, it’s about waking up every day to write and complete my writing project. I am a successful expat not because I have lived in three countries for many years, but because I am continually being enriched by my life overseas. I am already a successful writer not because of what I have produced, but because I write what my heart dictates to my hand.

I don’t have a picture of what my new life will look like. For now, I am just working on my craft by doing my daily writing, enjoying writing exercises, focusing on my different writing projects, and keeping myself open to other ideas that might spark my interest. I am learning that the writer’s life, just like that of an expat, is about keeping your heart open, having faith, and being positive.

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