I’ve had countless numbers of people ask me, “Aren’t you afraid to be away from home?”
Actually, it’s just the opposite. I’ve got a confession, world..
I’m afraid to go back home.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my home! I have a wonderful relationship with my family, who I adore and miss on a daily basis. I absolutely couldn’t live without my friends, who I’ve grown with into the adult I am today. And yes, I have extreme FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when I see pictures of them together on Facebook. It’s not that I’m running away from anything at home. It’s that two years ago, I left home to travel the world. Now, I’m petrified to return.
I am writing this now, because I’ll tell you guys…I’m at a point in my life where I feel like I’m at the edge of a cliff, and I don’t know what will happen when I take the next step.
I’ve been living abroad in Europe since 2014. I’ve had the most incredible experiences I couldn’t have dreamed of two years ago: I’ve learned a new language, immersed myself in a community as the only foreigner, made lifelong friends from completely different cultures, been “adopted” into families all over Europe, from Germany to Spain. Every day has been a new adventure. On the “mundane” commute to work, there has been something that culturally stunned me justtt about every day. Almost every morning on the metro, I’ve asked myself “where the flying fudge am I”?! Imagine, on your “commute” to work, you arrive late because you’re held up by a traffic jam of sheep…
So, here I am. In Madrid, figuring out my next step. My Visa is about to expire, and I don’t want to continue my life as an English teacher, ’cause, well… I have this feeling that it’s time to “grow up”. It’s time to pursue my career path in communications, even if it means not having the “easy visa” that teaching English provides. This is where it gets complicated. The logical thing? Well, before I’m deported…Go home.
But I don’t want to. I can’t. And I’m scared…
I’m scared of returning to the mundane. I’m scared of familiarity. Of being too comfortable. Of being trapped in the “normal” life.
Here’s the thing about home: It’s always there. As travelers, most of us have had that experience of returning home for a short-term period. Whether it’s for the holidays, Aunt Sally’s 80th birthday, little Johnny’s Bat Mitzvah…
It’s like groundhog day. It’s all the same. While some things might change, like the new frozen yogurt shop that opens up right around the corner (and you ask why it wasn’t there three years earlier…), the bottom line is; mom is still asking you to take the dog out, your neighbors still forget to take down their christmas lights until Spring, and your room is still covered with stuffed animals and pictures of you and your high school boyfriend at prom.
Yet, while it’s the same, it’ll never be the same. Your friends have all moved away, onto their own lives. You no longer recognize all the guys who work at the local pizza shop. And you’ve seen an entire world.
I’ve talked to many fellow expats about this. And we’ve all agreed; “Once you live abroad, goin’ home seems like fraud…”
OK… well that was my poetic license. But really. Once a traveler, an expat, an adventure-seeker is introduced to the long-term life abroad, it’s almost a feeling of failure to go home before we are ready.
We’ve been introduced to the big, wide world out there. We’ve seen the different ways of life. How people enjoy day-to-day, without the daily “grind.”
How life is for living.
And returning to the home country seems like sinking sand. Once you take the first step in, it’s nearly impossible to get back out.
But the question is, if it’s not home, “where in the world is my next step?” They say, put one foot in front of the other. But what if you don’t know where the next foot goes?
Once you begin the wanderlust lifestyle, it’s a dangerous, slippery, rewarding, mysterious, life changing path. The question is, where in the world will your path take you…
Are you a traveler with the same feeling?