Friday, January 8, 2010

Risk and confidence

life_on_edge How far out on the edge do expatriates live?

The question raised a couple of times in Christmas card notes this year, in notes from friends, and in conversations back home.  “Were you always such a risk-taker?” wrote one.  It took some thought to make a reply.

The truth is that I don’t see what I’m doing, living and starting a business overseas, as particularly risky.  I’ve  lived in Europe for years’ I think that I know how to do it.  The procedures for getting visas or registering a company are straightforward and take more effort than brains.  Life among the Dutch (or, occasionally, the British) is different, but not impossibly so: I think that the differences are usually stimulating  and usually fun.  I can cope.

And solving problems builds confidence. In the beginning, finding the word for “drycleaner” or discovering where to buy a mousetrap took a day of trial and error.  I knew that if I was methodical and persistent, I’d figure it out, and there was benefit in having patience to wrestle it down to a successful answer (stomerij and “the pet store:”, respectively).

The downside is also manageable.  If the business fails or the residence permit is denied, I move and find a new job.  Experience gained will, hopefully, be a plus in recovering.  And, as a friend once observed, when everyone is sitting around the lunchtable swapping war stories, I’ll have some especially good ones.

So I don’t really see this as a tremendous risk.  I understand what needs to be done.  I can handle the setbacks and the disasters. What looks like an extreme midlife crisis is, in fact, a way of living a life that I always wanted to live.

It’s not perfect, but it’s not crazy.

(It is, however, hard on relationships.)

No comments: