I have some devastating data to share with you:
Depending where you’re sitting when you read this, you may feel differently.
Then there’s those of us in the middle, a weird cultural purgatory: Many, many American expats living out here in Israel. In at least one particular case I can speak to, it looks like this: I’m fairly aware that I’m not networked like a sabra Israeli (no army buddies, no childhood friends present, no swapping holidays year in and out between in-laws and broad stretches of blood relatives).
And I only have to look over my shoulder back towards the Atlantic to watch the second half of that chart play out.
And being in between these things can feel – in itself – very very lonely.
It’s time to start thinking about this, isn’t it? Four decades behind me, nuzzled in that crossroads of the graph, teetering on the cliff’s edge of where that ‘Alone’ line climbs and climbs into a thinner atmosphere of madness.
Headfirst tumbling into sandwich generation life, which is overcrowded with people to look out for, but I’m sure there’s something very lonely in that too. As an expat far away from motherland, married with another immigrant far away from motherland, that sandwich generation concept hits different.
Looking closer at the graph’s right side, I am squirmingly aware that I’ve entered the ‘second half’ of my kids still living at home. We have so many good years together under one roof, but let’s face it – I can see, 10 years out but kinda really earlier, where this tunnel lets out.
And then let’s not even go there – where? – the kids of expats becoming expats route. How can I not let this thought slowly swell in the back of my head, offering no real stress today but waiting in the wings of tomorrow’s “if you love them let them go.”
And of course, well. As my eyes dart ever rightward to that climbing Alone line, I remember that being a perpetually uncomfortable immigrant is never going to not be lonely on some level, no matter how far left I still sit.
What’s my point? I don’t have anything wise to say. I imagine in another 10, 20 years I can offer an insight or two. What I do know is that it’s going to take proactive work to prevent slamming too hard into the reality of that data set. The same way it takes proactive work to not end up in crisis-level empty nest shock or late stage marriage meltdown.
Awareness is key, self check in is key. Focusing on multi-dimensional life, and not on 2D graphs, is probably also very key.