The one thing you should never say to an expat…

Crystal Uncategorized

Those of us who have chosen to expatriate, who’ve picked up and left our homes because we wanted or our jobs lead us there, have often heard this phrase: “You’re so lucky.”

And I’ll admit, I am. But rarely for the reasons the person uttering those words thinks.

I’m lucky I was born in a time when travel is fast and fairly cheap. I’m lucky I was born to a white, American family who didn’t force me into a box of what I “should” be. I’m lucky I was born in a time and place where women are not limited in their professions or their travel by their gender or marital status. I’m lucky I was born at a time that had me leaving college during a high need time for software developers. I’m lucky I was born at a time where the world is digitally connected, and leaving home does not mean leaving everything.

I am extremely lucky. Yet all of these things I label luck are not things I chose. Every single one is something that happened outside of my control.

Moving to Costa Rica was a decision, not luck.

And while all of the luck I have had has made it easier to follow through on this decision, it’s not what made it possible.

I’m not saying, “If you just work hard enough, all your dreams will come true!” That if you chase your dreams, sacrificing all else, you’ll reach your goals. While that is the American dream, and I think it has some validity, there are some sacrifices that aren’t worth it. For me, that falls along relational lines. There are some things more important to me than running around the world. Your more important things are different than my important things. But either way, it’s a choice.

So many of the people who tell me I’m lucky don’t look at their decision as a choice. They’re people like me. People with family, jobs, friends, and an existing community. People with debts, goals, and fears. They have a life’s worth of belongings, gathered out of necessity and memories. And instead of looking at the choices they have, they focus on the fears. What if I lose my job? What if I can’t pay my school bills? What if I get mugged?

Turn those fears into choices. I will apply for one job a week that allows me the time and freedom to follow my dreams. I will put $XXX extra toward my school bills before anything else. I will not be stupid on the street and always carry a backup stash.

There is no luck monster that will bring your dreams to you. You do have to go after them.