Welcome to our bi-monthly series: Corkers Uncorked.
These are some of my most treasured interviews — mostly because I get to know my readers (you!) on a whole different level. We focus on your astounding biz-related superpowers and origin stories. Bonus: you get to learn more about your fellow readers, gain some insight into what makes someone successful, and hear how others got their start. (Wanna be one of our Uncorked stars? Start by raising your hand here.)
Meet Anne Gillme.
Anne’s on a mission to end the terrors of loneliness — a mission I believe more of us need to support and work for. Her particular goal is to help those who’ve found themselves in a abyss of depression after moving overseas. Especially the trailing spouses of employees who’ve moved because of a job change.
She lives and works in Tasmania, Australia, and hails originally from France.
What’s your super power, Anne? What do you do really REALLY well? And what advice would you give others who want to shine in the same arena?
What I’m doing really well? Beating myself up. Not that I’m whipping myself every morning but I’m quite good at never being fully satisfied. Do you want me to give you advice on that matter? Too risky: if it doesn’t work, you’ll blame me and if you’re successful, it’ll be all your fault.
Other thing i’m doing really well? Speaking several languages. Here are my best tips for learning a new tongue.
Also — but maybe not so inspiring because it’s worn-out advice — I care.
I care about the planet, my family and my readers.
I’m trying to do my best for all of the above.
I’m personally answering all mails from my readers, trying to give them the best information I can and listening to their concerns. This is my attempt to connect in a meaningful way and beat loneliness. It works… sometimes (but not always, far from it).
What inspired you to start your business?
My own situation.
I realized after 15 years that I’d been an expat for all my adult life. I’ve done it all: working abroad, building a house abroad, giving birth abroad, raising children in several languages and school systems.
Three years ago I moved to support my husband’s career. I faced the challenges of the so-called “trailing spouse”: loss of identity, expat grief, financial dependence, loneliness.
It’s to make sense of this whole experience that I’ve started Expatriate Connection.
What’s the story behind your biz name?
Expatriate Connection: meaningful relationships for life / or making friends for life (but the term “friend” is so overused! People are friends with so many people they’ve never met like from Facebook).
There are several steps involved when you’ve been uprooted:
- Understand what’s going on in your life (expat grief, loss of identity, dependence, supporting others): this is why there’s the blog with in-depth articles;
- Go through the pain, gain more self-confidence and look for like-minded individuals (thanks to key words and search engines);
- Connect without fear (small community where we care about the people not the numbers and where we effectively connect via video calls and where you don’t lose each other when you move);
Who inspires you? If you could have dinner with ANYone (living, dead or fictional), who would that be and why?
I’m currently discovering the fabulous books of this psychoanalyst, sociologist and humanistic thinker: “To have or to be,” “Man for Himself,” ‘The art of loving.” Each sentence I read gives me another piece of the puzzle to understand my life and the people surrounding me. I love the combination of his deep insights into the human psyche and his broad knowledge about society and its influence.
Moreover, he was an expat himself!
What would you like to get the word out about right now?
My Peer Support Group to beat loneliness when living abroad.
The program is called Unpack Your Bags. It’s a metaphor and here’s how I explained it to my readers when I first launched the program:
If you’re anything like me, you probably did some of the same things I did after I moved abroad. You know how it goes: amongst all the boxes, your trained eye scans for the ones containing cooking gear, daily clothes and toilet accessories. You take care of them first. Life must go on. The rest can wait…
No doubt you had bags that remained unpacked for a while (we all do it, right?). And the longer you leave them unpacked, the harder it is to unpack them. Funny how it works that way. Well, “unpacked bags” is also a metaphor for what’s happening in your expat life: you have unresolved and unknown issues that bother you and stress you out. And until you “unpack” those bags, things will only get worse.
But what can you do? Who can you talk to?
Your partner is too busy.
You don’t want to confide to the children.
You can’t involve your parents (they tell you enough that they miss you).
Your friends are just so excited by your adventure that they don’t listen and you feel ashamed to complain.
You’ve tried different things on your own:
- Keeping busy but after skimming the city for the 50th time, you’re soooooo bored.
- Trying to network but with the language barrier and the lack of a common purpose, the constraints of looking after young children, you haven’t been able to connect in a meaningful way.
- Skimming the internet for help but you don’t want to express your deepest thoughts in a forum full of strangers.
You have the blues. You’re afraid of drifting. You’re struggling to find a purpose. You need help.
You need human connection. With people who care. People who know what you’re feeling. Because they’re feeling the same.
This is why I’ve launched Unpack Your Bags.
Why do you read the Story Bistro blog and emails?
Michael Martine recommended your blog. I read a post you’d written on The Gift Economy. I found it so inspiring that I wanted to implement it to build my community. I just keep learning.
Are you doing remarkable or astounding things? Do you have some advice you can share with us? Be a Story Bistro “Corker Uncorked” by raising your hand here.