Random question that recently crossed my mind: what is it like to live abroad when you‚Äôre an introvert or a HSP (highly sensitive person)?
Consider, for a moment, three top items on your average expat‚Äôs to-do list: making new friends, building new networks from zero and practicing your language skills on unsuspecting locals.
These prospects can strike fear in the hearts of even reasonably extroverted folks. So what must it feel like when you‚Äôre an introvert and ‚Äúputting yourself out there‚ÄĚ is not, shall we say, your favourite pastime? Talk about uncomfortable!
On the flip side, do introverts, being more inward-oriented, cope better with the loneliness of the first few months? Is it welcomed as ‚Äúme-time‚ÄĚ and a needed respite from the whole meeting-new-people thing, or is it still hard and, well, lonely?
So many questions!
And then there is high sensitivity. As we can all attest, your senses work overtime when you live in a foreign country. Expatriation is a jolt for the senses, what with all the unfamiliar sensations that surround you everywhere you go.
But what do you do if your senses are triggered more easily and more intensely than those of your average person? What happens when, say, you‚Äôre very sensitive to noise, and your company sends you to a Mediterranean country where drivers honk non-stop, and talking loudly is the norm?
Do the HSPs among us walk around in a quasi-constant state of sensory overwhelm?
Having said that, I can also see how HSPs are uniquely positioned to fully experience the world that surrounds us. When your senses are this finely-tuned, you can pick up on nuances that the less perceptive (or more jaded) among us would just miss.
You get glimpses of insight into the true spirit of the place. Little moments of grace, here and there. Ultimately, I believe that high sensitivity allows you to connect with your new country on a very deep level.
If you are an introvert or a HSP living overseas, I would love to hear your thoughts. Not so much because I am looking for answers to my own questions, but because I am sure that others who are in the same situation would greatly value your input and your suggestions.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Subscribe to the newsletter to get more expat tips and resources, delivered straight to your inbox!