I’m sure you’ve noticed a certain lack of post. An absence, if you will. Funny how life sometimes swoops in and takes you off your feet– not always in a feel-good sort of way either. It’s been a long, trying 4 months that I’m surprised I came out of without embracing some horrible vice.
There are a few things no one warns you about when you return home from a stint like mine. First and foremost, reverse culture shock. Ok, so people do warn you about this, but reading about something and experiencing something is entirely different.
Since my return, I’ve met a few people that experience a similar reaction to mine. It starts with a general inability to connect with people you once found fascinating. In my travels I met all kinds of people, which possibly attributed to my lack of empathy upon return. I found normal day-to-day conversation lack luster. It eventually reached a point where I realized that I struggled to hold normal, insipid conversation. This isn’t to say I saw myself better than those who hadn’t done things like I, it was just that I could no longer relate to discussions about things like shopping, going to bars, or the like.
So, as a twenty-something year-old this is kind of depressing. When I finally found my footing again, it was almost scary how quickly I fell back into day-to-day routines that I would normally have condemned as mundane.
I realized I was sort of looking in on American culture at this point. It became for me, as baffling as I’m sure it is for anyone who comes here from another country. How could I have become a stranger in my own land?
A loss of identity.
Not to mention, an astonishing lack of prospective jobs made things all the worse.
People kept saying “Oh, don’t worry, it will get better!” and “You just need to get settled in.”
I was tired of always saying “goodbye,” but I also realized that, born of this, I’d forgotten how to create meaningful connections with people. This newfound inability coupled with insecurity about myself led to a pretty self-inflicted downward spiral.
Back to my original analogy (and a terrible one at that) of walking down a path. Life is often metaphorically a path– and I’d reached a dead-end. Or rather, what I thought was a dead-end. The path came upon a city and I simply thought it ended at that city. Turns out, it doesn’t end there.
When I first landed on US soil again, I was sure this was it. I was back for a while. The story has a somewhat interesting ellipsis, as all great stories do. That part in the middle typically omitted for more satiating content. My ellipsis, probably shouldn’t be a series of dots, it should be told. And it’s probably not the most compelling story, but it’s mine.
And when it’s all said and “done,” I realize that “done” is a terrible word. Thinking that I was somehow meant to find this end-all version of my life was my first mistake. Nothing in life should ever meet the qualifications of “done.” If something did, it would lose it’s undeniable attraction. Life is full of wonder and adventure, a quality it should never be without.
It’s full of ellipses, metaphors, notes on translation, and so much more. It’s not easy, but don’t leave that part out. We are a summation of our experiences, and without them, we are unwritten stories.
To you I say, never accept “done.” Never accept that you’re meant to reach a certain point and the road stops there. Don’t let stories in your life become ellipses and always, always push the boundaries of what you can do. As the old adage goes: “Adventure begins just outside your comfort zone.”