Having been away from home for a prolonged period of time, one naturally starts to miss its comforts and familiarities. If you’re anything like me, you start to visualise yourself back there, surrounded by all the people you love, snuggling pets, eating at your favourite restaurants, even basic things like shopping at your old supermarkets (M&S you know I mean you my love). Suddenly home becomes this incredible, almost magical, distant place. This intensifies as soon as you know you’re going back soon. Though it also begins to mix with a strange sort of trepidation.
Around a month before I was due to head home for Christmas (even knowing I was coming back out to Australia to continue my travels), excitement levels were soaring and colliding with certain anxieties.
You kind of assume that you’ve changed so much during your time away, that everything back home will appear different; seen through an altered lens. You’ve changed hugely right!? You’ve gained independence, become more worldly, learnt from many new and different people. What if your friends don’t really recognise you anymore – what if you no longer have anything in common – how can anyone really relate to and comprehend the stories you are now full of. And yet the thought of having changed is exciting – maybe you have a whole lot more to bring home, more conversation to bring to your friends – maybe people will look at you with greater respect or interest or desire? Sounds bizarre really… but that’s the mix of emotions swirling around!
The reality of the situation, however, can be quite different. It came as quite a surprise for me and threw as whole lot up in the air. Now don’t get me wrong – going home is still utterly wonderful; it fills you with love and comfort and, in my case, it reinforced how sure I am that home and London is where I ultimately belong. My very favourite people in the world are there and that’s fundamentally the most important thing for me. But here are a couple of realities I wasn’t really expecting:
- Yes maybe I had changed –I could really feel this back in Australia, reflecting on the emotional strength I’d developed during some very challenging moments. BUT, that newness in me felt suddenly insignificant in the familiar setting of home. Maybe it’s because home is easy and doesn’t require the strength. Or maybe home is so UNCHANGED that I reverted backwards in order to fit back in. Who knows?
- That’s the other reality – it’s bizarre how so much can happen within your own year away, but pretty much nothing drastic has changed in that very same year back home. I mean, the biggest adjustment I could see was a change of the name of our local club! Now this is actually quite nice, it adds to the comfort of home, but also kinda scary; maybe staying home means a slower pace of transition which I’m not quite ready for yet.
- Ohhh and for fear of boring or irritating people, you simply don’t tell all these stories you’re filled with. And to be honest, I felt like quite a boring person as a result. After a year of travel and living abroad, my whole identity is shaped by that. My recent experiences so differed from those of all my loved ones back home. They had things in common with each other – recent local news, gossip, events etc. I haven’t been around for those – I found I couldn’t really contribute to these conversations and to talk about my own experiences was actually pretty selfish – nobody else had been around for those.
So my vague plan was to travel until March and then head back home to start working again in London. That is absolutely my ultimate goal and where I want to be. But I am so SO glad I went home at Christmas and felt all the realities above, because it has fully thrown this plan to the wind. Suddenly I’m aware that when I start working in London, that is me settling down for life. I’m only 23… can I seriously be ready to settle!? I actually don’t think so.
Seeing the comfort and familiarity of an unchanging home suddenly illuminates how easy it would be to slot back into that world for good. And as a result, at least for me, the relative freedom, uncertainty and even emotional turmoil of being away – the very things I was excited to leave behind by moving home, become somewhat desirable.
My reality of going home was that at home I had never even been away. And that thought is terrifying. Now I have no idea of my next move, but I’m pretty sure it will be to another “temporary lifestyle” – another country, another city, another away-from-home-place.
Images from last year’s trip to the most spectacular place on Earth – New Zealand. (South Island).