Today I am over at 3PlusInternational with a short personal piece about career transitions for trailing spouses, both the challenges and rewards. It is a response to my previous post ‘Trailing Spouse – the graveyard of ambition’.
The original post has been incredibly popular, shared over 30 000 times, and I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who read the post, commented and shared it. I wish I could have replied to every comment, but I did read each one. And to those trailing spouse mums and dads who came up to me in the playground at school, and thanked me for what I wrote or just to let me know that their friend in Manila, Fiji, Singapore…enjoyed it too. It was a humbling experience.
Our lives are made up of stories; the ones we tell ourselves to make sense of the world, ones that help us stay sane, ones that become part of our family’s fabric, and sadly, ones that can pull families apart. I was particularly moved by those comments which spoke of marriage breakdown, with the trailing spouse feeling left behind, redundant, and unappreciated. After all, we are following the careers of our partners and abandoning (at least temporarily) our own careers. The phrase in the title of the original post “graveyard of ambition” struck at many people’s hearts, for it is all too common for those of us ‘trailing’ to feel rudderless, and nothing more than a family support unit.
That is why I wrote the piece over at 3Plus International. I wanted to speak of the opportunity of being a trailing spouse. When I became a trailing spouse I did not anticipate the sense of loss I felt at stopping work. There was a real and profound period of grieving which I did not recognize for some time. It wasn’t only an inability to find paid employment, but a sense of powerlessness too, in that I was not allowed to work.
But one of the wonderful things about this expat life, is the number of interesting people you meet. I am endlessly fascinated by their stories and their choices. What their stories have taught me is the importance of staying open to opportunities. For some, these opportunities may be a chance to take time off work and enjoy being an at-home parent. For others, with open mindedness, flexibility and hard work, new careers, often shaped around visa restrictions, have opened up.
All of us ‘trailing spouses’ have one huge advantage. We are here (there and everywhere) because of our partners work, and hence a paypacket is coming in the door. We need to take this opportunity…to work out what makes our hearts sing, to return to education, to contribute through volunteer work, start an online business, learn to play tennis…
Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty about it….and pass me another G & T will you?
Read the full article at: Career transition lessons of a trailing spouse