You leave to see the world, to move past your comfort zone and away from the familiar. To explore and try new things. To find out something about yourself you never knew before. You meet amazing people, fall in love with distant places and discover the wonder of different cultures and then with a snap of your fingers (or a 16 hour plane ride) it’s all over. You’re home. People always speak of their burning desire to travel and then they speak about how amazing it was when they got there, but what people don’t speak of is life back home. Life after travelling.
If you have been keeping up with my blogs then you will know that I have written about the hard parts of travelling; missing home, being scammed, saying goodbyes, credit card fraud and night train disasters. But today I’m going to tell you what’s hard about coming home.
You’re standing at the airport about to board your final flight and it all seems a little surreal. Everything you have done and all the people you have met already seem like a distant memory as the longing for home and to embrace the people you love takes hold. Overwhelming is the only way I can describe that final journey.
Then all of a sudden you’re home, you have your reunions, spend your first few weeks catching up with family and friends, telling stories and tales from your trip. You’re high on life for the first few weeks back and it’s all new and exciting again. And then it all just sort of fades away. Everyone gets used to you being back and the questions start to change. No one is interested in your trip of a life time anymore, now it’s all “so how’s the job hunt going?” and the most daunting of all “what’s your plan?”
But it’s not even these questions that really bring it home, it’s when you’re sitting in your bedroom or eating dinner at the dinner table instead of at the beach, sleeping in a familiar bed in your own house surround by people you know that it hits you, nothing has changed and coming home just might turn out to be the hardest part of your journey.
I’m glad to be home with the people I love of course. I’m happy people have found new jobs, new boyfriends, gone through break ups that have grown them, but part of me is screaming don’t you understand how much I have changed? And I don’t mean that my hair is longer, my skin tanned or anything else to do with how I look. I mean what’s going on inside of my head. What has changed is my dreams. I now see things differently. Things that once seemed so important just aren’t anymore. I have a new outlook on life. So how do you communicate that to others? To the people who haven’t shared your journey?
I have come to find that the answer is you can’t. And for a while you will feel disconnected and a little lost, and that is ok. It’s normal for home to not quite feel like home at first. You will have moments where you feel like it wasn’t worth it because nothing has changed, but they will soon be pushed aside by the realisation that what you have done might just be the most important thing you will ever do because it has changed you. It has forced you out of a life you once lived in search of a greater one. After all isn’t that the reason you left in the first place? It will also be the reason you will one day leave again. To seek out new places and new people, to continue to grow surrounded by people who know all too well how hard it is to explain why home can feel like the most foreign place in the world and why that is both sad and spectacular all at the same time.
By Sophie Maguire