I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Mostly because I already have the world. And, while it’s not really mine to trade, it has given me so much that I feel slightly entitled to it. My good fortune, my choices and my mistakes have all led me here- with the world at my fingertips and opportunity around every corner.
But I will soon be taking a break. Back to comfort, back to routine and back home. I can’t wait to see everyone! I can’t wait to get back into shape, to eat goat cheese and drink wine and eat Chili’s Fajita Trio. I’m excited to shower without shoes, live in the AC and to finally sleep in my own bed. I count the days until I start getting paid again, until I can watch Sportscenter and until I can stop living out of a backpack. And yet, this expat and travel life is how I want to spend the rest of my life. Leaving it behind, even just temporarily, will be devastating.
Culture shock hit me hard. Twice. And reverse culture shock will probably hit me even harder. Having familiarity be foreign sounds even scarier than arriving in a new, strange and confusing place. I have grown to be comfortable being uncomfortable; to never knowing what the hell is happening and never understanding a word people say. I have learned to ask questions when I don’t know the answer but also to never ask questions because the answer never makes sense. I have embraced the bum gun and take off my shoes before entering a store. Slowly but surely I have not so gracefully adapted to this different way of life. I have fallen in love with my new friends and the experiences I’ve had- but I’ve also fallen in love with the person I’ve become.
Maybe that sounds pretentious. And maybe everyone is rolling their eyes at how cliché it all is. But I am no better than when I left (although I do shower more frequently now). In many ways I’m still the same. I still think recycling is good and smoking is bad. I still prefer crunchy peanut butter, am a dog person and hate sharing food. I still can’t use a squatty potty properly, have a weakness for fro-yo and I haven’t tried mango sticky rice. And I’m still a huge nerd with mostly good intentions who is super weird and endlessly curious.
But I’m definitely different. These months away have subtly changed my personality and the way I look at things. They have shaped my taste buds, my mind set and my people skills. I still overthink things, but I’ve learned not to sweat what you can’t control. I still think about the future but living without a plan has been the most exhilarating feeling. I still get stressed out but never over the silly things anymore. I smile wider, laugh louder and live freer. I never knew it was possible to be this happy.
Travel has given me everything I was looking for and more. But I also refuse to live my life based on the trips that I take. Only the luckiest kind of person leaves something amazing to get to something amazing. Being happy to arrive and sad to leave is confusing. And terrifying. And I hope that everyone can have the patience while I figure out how I fit back into life at home. I hope that my reverse culture shock, potential grumpiness and readjustment doesn’t take away from the fact that I will, in fact, be happy to be home. It’s all about perspective and it’s me who decides how happy I choose to be.
I’m only home for a few months before I move across the world again, but I guess what I’m trying to say is coming and going is not as scary or hard or awful as I think it is. I love everyone everywhere and everything. Even if sometimes I’m grumpy. Or don’t want to share my food with you. Like it or not, I’m comin’ for ya. Wherever you are.