I’m an off the chart extrovert (if I haven’t mentioned that before).  When my parents would ask me the question, “If your friends jumped off a bridge would you,”  I would honestly answer, “Of course! It would be so lonely up on the bridge.”  My life motto: As long as we can all be together.

But then I moved here.  If being a homeschooling- stay-at-home-mom isn’t enough, I moved to an island where I’m one of a handful of foreigners.  It is isolating, to say the least.  

So how have I survived?  You know us, extroverts living a life of an extreme introvert.  It is difficult.  The loneliness is worse than the ants and the picture taking and the endless power outages.  It is real.  And at times it can feel very empty.  I know things are getting really bad when I lose all desire to go out.  That means the extrovert depression is kicking in and I need to do something fast.  Thankfully, I have a husband that totally supports my extroverted ways.   

Over time I have done various things to feed my need for people.  Here are a few suggestions to help the extrovert survive (and hopefully thrive) in an isolated location:

  • Think about investing in a good 3G phone.  I cannot tell you how much my iMessage has changed my life.  I can text my sister 12 timezones away, my friends around my island, my friends living in Africa (I don’t really have any friends in Africa but I would love to).  It is all the same.  Just a few words, a hashtag and a few emojis and I make connections with real humans.  It isn’t the best, like face-to-face contact, but it’s something!
  • Set up Skype/Facetime dates with friends.  Make a regular date with a friend.  Maybe it’s just to talk about nothing or to do a book club together or a Bible Study, who knows.  Maybe it is a fellow expat or a long-time friend at home.  Or maybe you could make a connection group.  Get a group of people together and start chatting.  Check out expat groups that have already been established like these over at  Velvet Ashes.
  • Go on an expat retreat.   Look online for retreats somewhere in your region.  I once attended a conference/retreat in the capital city that was very random and so wonderful.  Better yet, plan one yourself.  Talk to your company or partners in the States.  If you are feeling isolated and need good quality interaction, I can guarantee you aren’t the only one feeling the same.  We aren’t created to do life alone…introvert or extrovert.  We are created to do life together!
  • Plan a girls weekend.  I leave on Thursday for a 3-night romp with some girlfriends.  A few of us are having to travel for visas and medical stuff, so we decided to meet up in the capital and have a low-key weekend together.  We are going to eat at Chili’s, visit Ikea, go to the movies, drink an overpriced coffee and, I’m sure, laugh a lot.
  • Invite people into your home.  I made a friend at the mall. (I use the word mall very loosly).  I saw another family walking around and I went up to them and struck up a conversation.  They live 7 hours away and come through our town for various reasons and I invited them to stay with us when they do.  And guess what?  They do!  And it is great.  Our kids get to play with same cultured kids and we get to have adult conversations in English.  It feeds my soul!  I know that mall stalking is not the best way to make friends in the States but living abroad, it works. 
  • Be open-minded about those with whom you may connect.  So in the States, most of my friends are near my age, have kids, vote the same and are pretty much the same.  The expat community is so diverse.  Be open to folks from different cultures and different walks of life.  Our lives can be so enriched by those whom are different!
  • Get out of the house.  I have to get out of the house and away from the kids and do adult things.  Maybe it is a productive time visiting locals in their homes but usually it is just coffee and a cream bath and a swing by the grocery without any kids.  My husband and I have worked our schedule to where he stays home and home schools the kids about 3 days a month.  It is a huge sacrifice on his part but one he knows is vital to my survival here in this city.  Figure out a way to make it work!  Where there is a will there is a way.

I also believe it is important to encourage the introverts around you.  So, the hubs is an off the chart introvert.  We are complete opposites.  Complete! But he still needs friendships…maybe he isn’t so high maintenance as me, but iron without iron becomes dull.  So, even though he may not see it as such a high need, I encourage him to go, to get out and play basketball or to do whatever.  To do something he enjoys.  He has had a hiking weekend, a surf week and will be climbing a mountain at the end of a month…all guys trips.  Also, if you send out your husband he will be probably be more willing to send you off too.  {Wink-wink}

I thinks sometimes we can feel as mothers that anytime away from our children is selfish. Or if we pull our husband away from their daily “out” time we are hindering the work.   That’s a lie.  Really it is.  My kids need a happy mom, my husband needs a content wife and this work we do needs a healthy woman.  If I had not learned quickly what my soul needed to stay afloat,  I am sure we would of packed up and gone home a long time ago.  

What about you?  What do you do to stay connected and energized when you are living overseas and in an isolating location?