Do you ever feel suspended between multiple worlds -- challenged in your pursuits and interests by culture, geography, language or time zone? Welcome to the club. In fact, after fourteen years of expatriatism and through my cultural identity work as a writer/producer I’ve come to see this psychic limbo state about who we are and where we belong -- familiar to people with transglobal lives and culturally hybrid lifestyles -- as our secret weapon.
To start at the beginning, we’re all born global citizens even if that knowledge gets trained out of us. As we mature, a global identity seems nebulous, and ungrounded. Better to bond with the more concrete: family, culture, nation. Our schoolmates, colleagues, neighbors.
There’s a problem with concrete, though. It cracks over time and in quickly changing conditions, and sometimes even under its own weight.
I’d even venture to say that ‘our people’ today are not who they used to be. We’re unbounded by the communities in our physical midst. Now we can find inspiring new kinship in interest and outlook.
Expats and international types have more reasons than most to find a way to operate independently of where we happen to be physically.
With today's economic uncertainties no matter who or where we are, we all have to embrace an enterprising view of ourselves -- a way to operate unlimited by the options directly surrounding us.
With recent advances in virtual technologies like mobile devices and the social web, we have tools at our disposal to help us live a globally unbounded life.
Now we don’t have to be a tech expert or social media guru to build a micro-yet-global base of operations with a professional web platform and virtual network for continuing education, professional development, and a close-knit but world-flung set of friends. We can be digital world citizens and achieve a cutting-edge state of being -- that is, what I call ‘psychic location independence’.
I coined the concept of a global niche -- defined as a ‘psychic solution to your global identity crisis’-- at expat+HAREM, the online community of global citizens, identity adventurers and intentional travelers I founded in 2009. The group blog was inspired by the global community that gathered around Tales from the Expat Harem, an anthology by foreign women about their lives in modern Turkey that I coedited in 2005 with fellow Istanbul resident Jennifer Gokmen.
Expatharem.com was also informed by the idea of an ‘expat harem’ itself, where all the writers in the book and the readers drawn to them are cultural peers in a virtual realm.
My partner Tara Agacayak, a creative enterprise consultant from Silicon Valley who’s spent the past 10 years in Turkey, and I launched this new work-life initiative here at GlobalNiche.net. We’re applying the innovations we've been exploring in the past few years in our professional communities of creative entrepreneurs and social media proponents along with our expat experiences. We've realized that a robust online presence that helps us reach our offline goals is the most important independent survival skill of international people.