Destinations Magazine

The Expat, the Writer, the Worker

By Russellvjward @russellvjward

Are we inspired to do things we wouldn't normally do because we live abroad? Are we driven to increased creativity because of where we now call home?
Some people might say that traveling overseas and living abroad changes us. That moving away from our country of origin unlocks something inside that brings out the explorer - we yearn to get out there and see unusual sights, sample exotic foods, meet interesting people, and explore where, previously, we would have stayed indoors.
I wonder if living overseas unlocks another door.
As explorers, we consider options that we wouldn't have considered before, that may have been hidden in our previous lives. We see new possibilities and we spend time investigating avenues that once were disregarded out of hand. We encourage skills that lay dormant and we look at opportunities through a different lens - the lens of a traveller, the lens of an expat.
For some, it can mean bringing out the entrepreneur from within. For others, it's about working cleverly and innovatively in a way that suits the lifestyle best - working virtually as a consultant, coach, translator, graphic designer or social media guru. When we're away, we might start to identify with less traditional roles or we simply think about work differently.
Whatever the role or skill set, it seems to me that the life of an expat or traveler (or someone whose world revolves around their unique lifestyle) is a life that somehow encourages us to try careers or projects or ways of working that we wouldn't have tried in the place we left behind.
In my case, living abroad brought out a desire to work intelligently and to write.

The Expat, the Writer, the Worker

Photo credit: Spaceamoeba (Flickr Creative Commons)


It wasn't always this way for me
In the UK, work was work.
Career was the be all and end all, job status and title was king. I commuted, I worked, I commuted some more. I asked no questions, never challenged what I did. It was all that I knew and I was happy to settle.
For a while.
I don't remember a specific time at which I had the urge to explore work in a different light or to write with passion - not in my work or in my private life. I worked in the office, drafted letters, sent emails, created reports and presentations, fact sheets and templates. It was routine stuff and not particularly inspiring.
And I didn't have that much to write about. With a handful of travel experiences under my belt, I had no real motivation to share.
I needed inspiration. I needed something different.
Living abroad changed me
I suddenly wanted to share my stories of life overseas. It started with a blog, led to articles and interviews, guest posts and features, eventually culminating with a decision to write on a regular basis.
There was something about the grand adventure of living in a foreign country, a sense of being able to give almost anything a go, and the realisation that after going through this much emotion and upheaval, I was capable of more. This finally gave me the motivation I was secretly looking for to dabble in writing about my life and consider options for truly embracing my expat lifestyle.
I'm currently going through a major transition process.
I'm working with the team at Global Niche to understand how I can be passionate about my life and my work- and how this could look on a full-time basis. What is my niche, how can I build on what I've already done, and how can I share my value on a broader, international scale? Two weeks in and I like what I've seen from this community of globally-minded people working hard to create location-independent lives.>
I'm also writing fiction.
Since last year, I've been part of the #38Write workshop series designed for place-passionate writers around the world. I'm writing fiction, I'm developing storylines, and I have several novel ideas that I'm working to develop. It feels good to say that I'm finally writing in a particular niche that fits me.
We're two months into 2013 and this week has already seen a flurry of unexpected offers that have left me chomping at the bit and eager to share.
Call it karma or basic fate, I'm starting to believe that if I hadn't made such a monumental shift to my life back in 2003, then I wouldn't be sitting here writing this down right now.
The truth about expats and travellers
The thing is this. Expats and travellers have undergone a massive life change - and generally they were well up for it.
They've taken calculated risks and tried something radically different. On the whole, they're not risk averse, they're not especially hesitant, and they've demonstrated a desire to embrace change.
The day I moved abroad I made a statement: I wasn't afraid to step outside my comfort zone. I was available for opportunities and game for trying new things. For me, it was only a matter of time before I documented this journey and I feel that expat life was wholly conducive to this. This blog gave me a means to share and, with it, ignited a deeply held passion for the written word and for seizing opportunity wherever it lay.
And I'm hooked.
Look across the online world and you'll see thousands of people like me who are also hooked. A world of bloggers and global nomads sharing their stories, engaging in virtual conversation about overseas travel and expatism, while constantly innovating and experimenting with their working lives.
It's exciting to watch and even more so to be a part of.
Has living abroad nurtured your creative and entrepreneurial side? What are you doing now that you couldn't have imagined doing before?
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