What Does it Mean to LIve Authentically? Moving Abroad after Divorce

Let’s be real for a moment: there are a lot of posers out there. In the age of social media and curated content, many people claim to be “living their best lives” when in reality, their smiles and trite quotes about life are simply for the cameras. Meet Rebecca, a dynamic and brave woman who gave her life a complete 180 after divorce and a big move to the Middle East.


Photo by  Andre Hunter

Photo by Andre Hunter

I was chatting with a friend recently waiting for a school wide evening event to begin, when he said, “You know, no one’s life is two-dimensional Rebecca.” My head turned like a puppy hearing sounds coming from a piano. While we were speaking about many things, the phrase stayed with me. My thoughts began to stir and I couldn’t stop thinking about My Life in 3D.

What struck me most about the comment was two-fold. First, a multi-dimensional life could be thought of in terms of someone’s lifetime, someone’s life stories, and someone’s developed wisdom OR in terms of other’s perspective of their life. So, I started thinking; is my life 3D or is my life 4D? Let’s consider a few things: When I left the United States of America, I was working for a school system that showed little appreciation for my dedication. The workload continued to increase over the years, I had less time for myself, and my laptop was a necessary part of every vacation. I always felt replaceable.  When I left to work abroad, people would say, “Enjoy your next adventure.” While I often said nothing, inside I cringed. Am I on an adventure, I would say to myself? Maybe I have glamorized my international life by posting pictures on Facebook and writing about my travels, but that is only one dimension of my life. That is the narrative everyone seems to remember because that is the one people see. When cut, we all bleed and when happy most of us smile. My life isn’t what people perceive it to be; my life is three-dimensional. I am working abroad and getting to do some of the things I relish in my free time. I moved from a square into a cube. Did I experience the fear of starting a new job, the anxiety of being in a new place without family and friends, the angst of being in a dry country? I did. The only difference, I refuse to let my insecurities rise to the top and stop me from living My Life in 3D.

Then, I started thinking about other conversations that I had recently.  A colleague asked me about another dimension of my life; living abroad as a divorced woman. Her question: At what point do you pull the plug? While I didn’t think about it as a dimension of my life while we were chatting, as I recollect the conversation I know it is a part of my life that has added depth to me personally. Divorce is never an easy decision, but what I shared with her was this: Do we value security over happiness, control over freedom, or safety of the known versus the unknown? I shared with her how I was feeling when I knew I was in a relationship that was causing me personal grief. I was contemplating the big break up, but my thoughts often focused on what everyone else would think about me-perception. That would be living my life in 4D (Staying because others thought I should). While I did my best to avoid conversations with people who wanted to share their opinion, I still heard them and some resonate in my quiet moments today. In making that decision, I am still no different from anyone else. I wanted to share my life with someone who loved me, who considered me first, who took care of me for better and for worse, and who lived life freely. Then I told my new friend; I have no opinion in the matter, you must make that decision for yourself. Life is too short to add another dimension to it, especially the dimension of what others think. Live Life in 3D.

So, what is a 3D life? It is a life on your own terms. It is a life where you create memories and stories, a life without the judgment of others directing your path. I have been living in the Middle East for nearly 3 years now.  My Life in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait has been less than noteworthy but inspiring to me nonetheless. I work full time, but I have also had the opportunity to see the world. I’ve been to at least 15 countries since I first landed in Saudi Arabia. I’ve had a few visitors, which was wonderful. Sometimes you don’t realize the impact of a familiar face until you see one again. I’ve done sessions of Cryotherapy and even taken a Pilates class. I’ve acquired a new hobby of sailing on the weekends on the Gulf. I have even reengaged in an old hobby- playing tennis. I’ve learned a lot about myself, who I am, what I desire in this thing called life, just the intricacies of being Rebecca. People who are two-dimensional lack complexity. They are simple and uninteresting; they don’t give us the real version of themselves. Does this mean everyone should travel the world and work abroad, absolutely not. It means that during your lifetime you should attain stories and develop wisdom that is important to you. You should live Your Life in 3D.

If you’ve always wanted to live in Africa, I encourage you to move to Zimbabwe. If you’ve always wanted to fly a plane, I encourage you to change life’s direction and move towards your aviation dream. Reimagine yourself living the version of you you see when your eyes are closed.  A few years ago, I met a man in NYC who told me that jet lag is for the poor; you should always fly first class. As I end in each trip, crawling into bed after a long flight, I’ve learned that I am spoiled. I tasted the first class Kool-Aid and these itchy feet love that experience. I say to all those wondering how I do it, I just do with all my fears!  Do I get in my feelings? Sometimes. Do I want to come home? Yes, for a visit. Do I worry about my mother and my children back home, of course I do. I am Rebecca through and through and I live My Life in 3-D.

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Rebecca has been dedicated to enriching the lives of children for over 30 years. Her extensive background includes work as an author, a teacher, an educational planner, and most notably as a principal. After working for a school system for 27 years, she left the United States and began leading abroad.

Rebecca longed for experiencing a balanced life and is finally enjoying quality time with family and friends, traveling the world, and leading with passion seven thousand miles from home in the Middle East..