Reverse culture shock is a very real thing – and it’s a thing I’ve found myself feeling and thinking about and writing about. But it’s not really something I find myself talking about, because as I’ve said before, it’s a hard thing to discuss. Cuz like, you’re home! And home is good. So instead of trying to somehow put into words this weird, heavy fog mixed with this overwhelming sense of both excitement and insecurity, you don’t. You brush it off and hug your friends because holy fuck is it ever good to see them.
And then sometimes you catch yourself – waiting for the light to change or standing in the shower or in that brief moment in between waking up and actually being awake – where you feel it. You feel it fully; that loss of something ending and that eagerness of something new starting, and this sense that you’re stuck somewhere in between.
Because the thing is, being home is fucking sweet. Like, you’re literally just in this place that’s filled with the people you so often craved while you were away having this adventure. They are the ones you wanted in those moments where you were tired and headache-y and not quite sure what town you were supposed to hit next. When you were feeling a little lost and a tad regretful, and you just wanted someone you could be fully yourself around; who understood your personality without you feeling the need to justify yourself. These are the people you wanted in those moments, and now they’re here, and it’s just as good as you thought it was going to be.
And the thing is, they get it, too. Everyone asks how you’re doing knowing there’s a part of you that probably feels a little sad and a little blah. So they bring you ketchup chips and leave Tim Hortons gift cards for you to come home to and throw you a beautiful, beautiful surprise party with even more ketchup chips that have your name written all over them.
And you feel so genuinely, over-the-moon lucky. You appreciate all of this and all of them and you just feel so, so good.
But even so, sometimes – while waiting for that light to change or in that brief moment between waking up and actually being awake – sometimes you feel unexplainably sad. Strangely alone. More lost than you felt when you actually were. So, you cry a bit and write in your journal because DUH what else would a writer do, and you let yourself feel sad for a small amount of time before you feel that sadness transition into stress instead. Stress about the future and your bank account and the fact that now you’re not waking up wondering what to cook for breakfast, you’re waking up and wondering WTF DO I DO WITH MY LIFE? And then you feel like such a whiny little bitch for getting all caught up in this because look at what you just did and look at everything you still had to come home to. Look at Everyone you have. YOU ARE SO LUCKY.
And this – this – is why reverse culture shock is something you feel and something you think about, but it isn’t something you talk about because it is such a weird fucking thing to discuss. Because you just can’t figure out how to bring it up without sounding ungrateful and unappreciative and unhappy. And you aren’t any of those things. You aren’t. You’re just, quite simply, a little bummed. A little afraid. And a little unsure if you’re ready to let go.
But MAYBE. Weirdly. This is one of the best parts of these kinds of experiences – be it travel or some other cool thing you tried that made you step out of your comfort zone a wee bit. Maybe coming down from that high is simply a final little reminder that you just did something fucking awesome. That you just grew and changed and became even more yourself.
That you did it – whatever it was – and it was the best thing you could have done.
So, maybe we should just feel the feels. Let it be tough. Sad. Because letting yourself feel this is actually such a comforting little send off into whatever wild thing is coming your way next.