“Nobody wants to hear about your weekends in Paris”

Why telling your repat story can be tough.

Last week on Boomeranging I told my repatriation story of returning to Australia – ultimately the story that became the seeds of the Insync Network Group and the Boomeranging podcast.

When I first arrived back in Australia, telling my story after seven years in London attracted two very different responses. For any fellow expat, I was a magnet. For any non-expat (including some friends or family), it was more a case of ‘glad you are back but I don’t want to hear about your weekends in Paris’.

 I found myself needing to professionally and personally tailor my story to my audience, a challenge I know many recently returned repats still face today.

I have often wondered why it is so hard for people to tell their story. In part, it’s because the reaction can be so varied, in part it is because often it is a story that doesn’t quite ‘fit’ back into stories being told in Australia.

And it was a desire to help others with that ‘fit’ that inspired me to start Insync. The very name of our community came from the desire to get back ’in-sync’ with life and careers here at home.

I returned to Australia in 2005 after seven years in London, six more than this travelling teacher had expected. My time in London was extended after both falling in love with the city and embracing a change in career too good to pass up. I had transitioned from being a teacher into talent management and consulting in the education sector. Ironically it was being offered another promotion into a regional role that was the catalyst to me deciding to come home.

So, I came home without a gig and thought I would start anew in Melbourne, a city I had never lived in. I fast realised that a career in managing global talent in the education sector, didn’t naturally translate into a Melbourne based job description. Hence, a rocky few months ensued until I met another fellow repat running a consulting firm who told me “I am not sure what to do with you, but I am sure we want you to work for us.”

Personally, I fell into a new friendship group of people many of whom I didn’t know in London but who had all returned to Melbourne from the city around the similar time.

Connecting both personally and professionally with other like-minded repats certainly cushioned my landing and really helped build the life I have today.

After a few years in Melbourne, I found every time I told my story, often in my introduction to one of the training and career development workshops I was running, if there was an expat in the audience, they would find me! After years of meeting repats going through the same experience and realising there is no real forum for people who don’t already know each other to share their experiences – the Insync Network Group was born.

While the group started and continues with events, it is truly beginning to grow as the network expands. This year, the events are back, a new podcast series is about to start and we are about to launch membership packages for recently returned repats who need that extra support.

And as series two of the podcast reflects, repats over the last twelve months have a whole lot of new challenges to overcome – COVID induced returns, quarantine and lockdowns, travel restrictions and a stop-start economy.

Connection has never been more challenging nor more important. I’m looking forward to hearing (and sharing) more stories!