An e-mail I got this morning inspired me to write this post. She wrote:
We have also chosen not to tell our families about our plans for now. We love them, and are very close both relationally and geographically, but think things will go more smoothly for everyone if we present our decision after things are more settled, rather than give myriad immediate and extended family members the time to unload all their thoughts and advice and misgivings while we’re still pursuing our options. I’m still very happy with that choice, but it makes me feel like I’m living a double life in many ways. I also dread telling them, because for quite a few, their happiness is dependent on having the whole family together here in the DFW metroplex; the closer the better!
(no worries – she gave me permission to reprint it)
Wow. That message rocked me to the core. It’s so heartfelt, so real. And it reminded me of when my wife and I were in the very same boat nearly 5 years ago. We were living in New Hampshire, very happy with new baby daughter, our jobs, our house and most of all, our network of dear friends, the “urban tribe.”
But we had this tugging, this longing for some adventure. We knew the choice: either satisfy it, or in 10+ years, we’ll regret painfully that we didn’t.
After a week we had a few countries picked out, researched selling the house, even had a phone interview for a job. We were doing it. But when we do share it with friends and family?
Here’s what I shared in my reply e-mail to the above:
Ultimately here’s how we did it: we invited the friends to a group dinner. Doing that wasn’t completely unordinary, but it was obvious we had something to announce. We got a few guesses,…but we already had a child under 1 year, both happily employed (full & part-time) and loved our house of 4 years.
We spilled the news well before eating, unable to wait after the last friend arrived. We just said “Well, we love you all, but we’ve decided we need to have an adventure – we’re looking to move abroad.”
My wife and I had firmly decided we were going ‘somewhere’ and at that point Prague was likely it, but no deal-breaking decisions were made yet.
How did they respond? The result – 100% support. We were lucky.
Days later, we finally told family (especially our kid’s grandparents) – they were more reserved but also supported us when they learned it’s our final decision.
We felt so close to our friends, we couldn’t possibly continue that “double life” after we decided we were going.
But that’s the magic point -after you decided. If you let on that you’re considering to leave, you will get nay-sayers and discouragement from a few folks.
Naturally, I didn’t feel right telling her what to do with her life. But I gave it my best shot:
In 3 different experiences, here is what I said (& the outcome):
1. “Wait for me?” – She did (4 month study exchange); But we ended it a year later.
2. “Goodbye.” – We parted and are still friends 15 years later.
3. “Come with me.” – She did (as my wife) and we’re still happily married with kids.
If there is anyone out there with a similar experience or facing the same thing today, drop a comment below. I would love to hear how you did it or will handle it.