I will remain an expatriate, living and working in the Netherlands.
And I’ll still be here, writing advice and experiences and exploring cultures and ideas.
It’s all just going to be a lot more independently.
It still feels strange to say that: it evokes pride and sadness, frustration and resolve. But I know that I’ve taken the right steps to move on to the next stage in my life and career.
The process has played out in slow motion over the past six months, making it hard to know when it really started or whether it’s really ended.
But by Christmas, it had become clear how hard it would be to connect back into a new position from an overseas assignment. The literature and advice from other global assignees had highlighted that: a majority of expats leave their company within a year of repatriation. I hadn’t expected it; I had a good record, strong mentors, and lots of friends across the organization. But, six months after the division closed in Arnhem, it wasn’t converging as I’d hoped.
So I started the necessary Plan B planning.
I made alternative plans for the future, talking with family, friends, and colleagues.
I inventoried my expatriate contract to understand what would need to be replaced and found the resources to do it.
I talked with lawyers and accountants and other expatriates to figure out the immigration and incorporation rules and how to live in the Netherlands without the corporate safety net.
And so, when the business contraction hit and the recall notice arrived, I was ready with my alternative to make the most of the voluntary severance offer. And the process ground forward to today, when the ID badge and company cards went in, the last box of personal stuff went out, and a new chapter in life begins.
Two questions still keep me awake at night to share here later this weekend: what happened, and what’s next.