by Allison Ochs, MSW
Edit Change Management
The first time I quit my job to move abroad I was 28. I was working and lecturing as a social worker at a University Hospital. Even though I wasn't a hotshot career woman, a VP or earning a lot, I felt like I was on top of the world.
When my husband asked me to quit my job to move to Bordeaux, I answered, "Yes, absolutely. It is now or never." I thought this would be a fun adventure and it would be easy to jump back in. Very naive of me.
In Bordeaux, I excelled at this expat thing. I learned French, had two babies, put my eldest in a French school and thoroughly enjoyed understanding their culture. I took it upon myself to grasp everything from the school system to their relationships. It was marvelous.
The moves continued, my kids grew, and I started working again. As this happened, I became more and more reluctant to move yet again.
I remember saying, "It's not fair. I want recognition too. I can't keep on starting from zero. Don't do this to me again."
I don't think enough credit is given to the partners that quit their jobs to follow. I am still recovering from the position I left last, and sometimes I just want people to thank me — not only my husband but others. I don't want someone to see me as a woman who just drinks coffee and has lunch. "What a great life you have! You've lived all over." I hear that, and I think, "Yes, it's great, but I've left friends behind, been lonely, and gave up on a lot — and no one sees that."
How did I manage? Not always well. I complained for a while, was angry and then decided to create something of my own. I don't think there is a single piece of advice to give anyone who feels this frustration. The only thing I can say is — you are not alone. I haven't met a single veteran expat who hasn't, after years of this, felt some exhaustion and well... a lack of recognition.
Here's to us... the ones who quit our jobs to support our partners and families.