Don’t push the river, it flows. (George Tabori)
When I speak to people who came to the U.S. from all over the world, I often have the feeling that everybody feels under pressure. People seem to push themselves to quickly find a job, quickly build new friendships and quickly adjust to the new culture. When this is not working, many of them are feeling disappointed and lose their energy to deal with challenges they have to face.
But every one of them went through a big transition and such processes, like all change processes, need time. Do not force yourself through your transition process too fast and to adapt to your new life immediately. There are times for everything. Times to be excited, times to be sad about what you have left behind, times to explore new things, times to be overwhelmed and times to start something new.
What people, who come here on a dependent visa and do not have a job, often tell me: They are missing structure in their lives. It can be very difficult, if you have to create every day on your own without being a member of some community. In our society, we usually get acknowledgement for our job. If you are not working, you have to acknowledge the things you accomplish yourself. It is a big and difficult job to adjust to a new life without having any structure and community and you can be proud of what you are going through.
If you have – like many of the so called “traveling spouses” – the feeling of losing self-confidence, it might be helpful to think about what you have already achieved in your lives and which competencies helped you to be successful.
Choose a particular success from you past:
What was the initial situation?
What was particularly difficult/complex/challenging about it?
What exactly did you achieve/establish/decide?
What exactly was the result/benefit?
Which of your skills/characteristics/talents did you use?
Acknowledge these skills. Maybe they can also be helpful in the present situation or in the future.
Sometimes it can also be helpful to see your situation from a different perspective:
Who would be able to solve your problem? What do you think would he or she do?
Imagine, your best friend would come to you with a similar problem and ask for your help. What would you recommend to her/him?
Imagine yourself looking back to the present situation in three years from now thinking: That was an important experience. What could have been important for you?
When thinking about their future and goals, people often think only about what they want to change. But sometimes it is useful to also think about what you want to keep. What is so good at the moment, that it shall always be a part of your life?
Do whatever you like and find interesting. Maybe you like arts or cooking or would like to do voluntary work. There are communities for these activities that could make you feel more welcome in the new country. This might sound silly when you are feeling the urgent need to first find a job. But having fun and thinking about positive things create positive energy. You need this positive energy to face difficult challenges, no matter if it is the adjustment to a new culture and life or the often difficult job search.
Go out. Try to connect with people. Meeting locals is a great opportunity, but meeting people from your own culture speaking the same language and sharing your experience can also be very helpful.
You never know where you could meet someone who has a job offer for you or knows someone who has…
Anna Kristina Beissner
Anna Kristina Beissner is a coach and business trainer for team building and human resource development from Germany. She came to Boston on a dependent visa in 2013, because her husband got a postdoc position at the Harvard University. During her stay, Anna worked as a coach for the Harvard Students` Spouses and Partners Association (HSSPA) and the MIT Spouses and Partners. She supported the members to get to know their potentials better, to set goals for their time in the U.S. or the time after or to solve any problems and conflicts.