Belonging – such a simple yet powerful word. And this word is stuck in my head since our family vacation. I have been living abroad for 15 years now. Is this reoccurring thought of “belonging” – this longing for a place and wanting to belong – a subconscious sign of wanting to settle down? Or does is simply represent the confusion in my mind of not knowing where I really belong and call home? Do I long for something else?
My birth and passport country is not a place I necessarily want to live anymore. I grew up there, never felt attached to it as an adolescent and the repatriation a few years ago was tough. It just confirmed that deep sense of not feeling that I belong.
Much the opposite when it comes to my second passport country. A sense of calmness washes over me the moment I touch ground. A deep breath and an immediate sense of being home. Even though I never lived there.
Can it be home, if I only ever spend school holidays there as a child and later with my own family? The feeling from back to when I was a child to now never changed. That country simply puts me at ease whenever I cross the border. And I love that feeling of inner peacefulness that washes over me.
At the same time as I was enjoying that feeling of belonging I tried to dig deeper. How do I feel thinking of that country as a place to settle down in future? Of really belonging there. The result was that I felt tightness in my chest, my breathing got a bit uneasy, I started to feel kind of anxious.
While I love that country and its people and may see myself living there one day it is the pure thought of deciding to live at one place that unsettles me! Even after all those years. There are still so many countries out there. And despite its hassle and rough patches at times I hope we are still able to make a home in some of them. Places where we only belong to and create a home in temporarily.
But when is the stage in life when we really have to decide? Some criticise us for not having a home base, an own space, respectively did not make a decision for the kids`s future schooling by now. We do not even know where any of that that would be. Should we know, now that we are close to our mid 40th, having lived abroad for 15 years and have children?
Sometimes I am a bit jealous hearing others speak fondly of their home country, hearing their kids referring to it as home, and knowing they will one day move back. Others again made a decision to create a future home in a new country. It sounds so safe and kind of nice. And somehow it does make me long for something.
At the same time I know that is not me – yet. And many others are in the same boat as I am. Is it at times more the outside expectation that want us to define, to decide, to pick and chose? I am not yet ready for a final decision. I can eliminate and cross off where I would not want to live but for now I cannot and do not want make a final pick.
This longing for a place and wanting to belong to somewhere is a funny thing, don`t you think?
My passports say I belong to two countries. My husband adds a third country. My heart belongs to one of them but as well to other countries we have lived in.
Some of them truly felt home and I would go back in a blink of the eye. At times I long for them. But where do I want to settle down?!
Where is and will home be?
I guess only time will tell for us. At times I am happy with the not knowing, yet at other times it does unsettle me.
Do you feel you truly belong somewhere and know where you will eventually settle? If so, I would love to hear what gives you this sense that you belong! If you don’t feel you belong, how does it affect you, are you longing for something or working on a final decision?
Author: Ann-Katrin van Schie
I am Ann-Katrin, currently living in Tokyo, Japan with my family of five. I have been living abroad, including a repatriation, for over 15 years now. My own experiences and a lot of talks and discussions with others have inspired me to give back. To give support for an overall better wellbeing in various areas of life, especially when but not limited to, living abroad.
With my blog I hope to give others a source of inspiration to feel relaxed and content – or simply said to feel “at ease”!