“That’s right,’ she told the girls. ‘You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”
– Maria Semple, Where’d You Go Bernadette
So I’m going to write about something that might not prove popular with some people and that’s OK with me.
I have been back on home turf for just over two weeks now and, to be completely honest, I’m having a seriously hard time adjusting.
I know there will be certain people who’ll read this and think I’m just being silly. Perhaps I am. How can I be feeling down when I’ve just had a five month holiday, right?
But this is how I feel, and if I’m experiencing this huge travel comedown, I am sure other longer-term travellers are going through – or have been through – the same thing.
It didn’t hit me at first. I was still high from the whole experience, and completely ecstatic at everyday things like waking up in my own bed, taking a hot bath, making a home cooked meal, seeing my family, and oh my god, I love the kettle. I have missed the kettle.
It’s only now, a few weeks later, that it’s nasty paws have taken hold of me.
It’s not a severe sadness, more a latent – yet persistent – nagging. My friend, Alex, and I like to call it “chronically bored and comically miserable.” You’re a bit down in the dumps so you become a bit tired of everything and it’s extremely ridiculous for you to feel that way. But you do. There’s no escaping it. I feel like I’ve been spirited away for a few months and then unceremoniously dumped in the middle of nowhere, ill-equipped for the journey home and, quite frankly, freaking the fuck out.
I have no money (spent it all – my fault), no job, no house, no relationship. Not even a hint. Zip. And while this was all completely fabulous before, and while, I was travelling – absolutely no ties, I could do – and did do – what the hell I wanted, whenever I wanted – it doesn’t quite translate to my life post-adventure when part of me would quite like a bit of stability (the other part of me wants to party on a beach somewhere, ain’t going to lie).
So what can we do to stop ourselves feeling like this?
Don’t Feel Guilty
You’re entitled to feel the way you feel. Take whatever people say about your current situation or feelings with a pinch of salt. But also respect that people aren’t going to want to hear you bang on about how great things were here or how the people were better there. They have their own lives to contend with.
The struggle is real for everyone, people; it’s just a different kind of struggle.
I can be a bit of a dweller sometimes. I’m usually a pretty chilled person, not really into planning things, but recently I’ve been obsessed with my Non Plan Plan approach to life and wondering if this was the correct way to go about things after all.
Well, I can argue with myself (I know, I know – it’s the first sign of impending madness) until I am blue in the face about my past and current choices, or I can just get on with things. Make better choices.
Quit the Dwell. You’ll be so much happier.
Be grateful you had the experience. Not a lot of people get to travel. Jeez, it took me ten years to be able to a) afford it b) pluck up the courage to do it and c) be in a position to jet off somewhere.
Also, recognise that being home – and having a home (if it wasn’t for my very kind – and hilariously fun – parents, this would have been tough) – is pretty great in its own right. Print out some picture, put them up on the wall, stare longingly at them, but enjoy it, be grateful.
Stop Making Excuses/Procrastinating
It’s easy, when you feel a bit low, to get caught up in the sweet misery of it all. Although I do believe a bit of wallowing can be pretty cathartic, too much of a good thing is never a brilliant idea. Perhaps back away from the Come Dine with me repeats and start doing something productive.
I’m currently making plans to move away from my parents’ house and job searching and, although I am (evidently) losing my mind in the process, it’s helping me feel more positive about the situation. A trip to the job centre, four job applications and a draft letter later, and I feel a bit more positive. I’ve earnt that pack of chocolate hob knobs and slob-sesh on the sofa!
Now if only I could just find my dream job. I’m sure there’s an opening to be Ryan Gosling’s personal masseuse, right?
Stop Comparing Yourself to Everyone Else
I’ve written a fair few blog posts about this and I really try not to engage in this activity but sometimes – especially when you’re feeling a bit glum – it’s impossible not to succumb to the temptation. It is difficult when we hear news of others who are getting engaged, married, pregnant, or promoted while you’re sat in your pyjamas watching daytime TV and shoving Doritos into your gob, but step away from Facebook, dust of the crisp crumbs, and go do something else.
Go for a walk. Go for a run. Go to the corner shop and buy a chocolate bar (or another pack of Doritos)
Open the curtains, turn off the TV, and leave the house.
Make a List
This is my personal favourite. It’s also a smidge stilton-on-toast.
Put pen to paper and write a list of all the things you really need to do – update your CV, job search, go food shopping, sort out finances.
Then, grab another bit of paper and write a list of all the things you’d like to do – get the dream job, move house, start a blog, plan another adventure, move abroad, have a crazy love affair with Ryan Gosling and have his beautiful babies (Add Gosling to my list of obsessions).
Keep the List of Things You Must Do Immediately with you and start working through it. Place the List of Things You Want to Do somewhere you will see it every day (stick it on a mirror or like me, above your computer) and start working towards it.
Often the list of things you really should do coincide with the dream list. I mean, there will be no second adventure without money to get there you there, and there will be no dream job without an updated CV.
I have an obsession with Doritos. Eat them. Or buy something nice. Have a glass of wine. Be kind to yourself. Do something you love. I love writing and reading so will resolve to spend more time doing these activities.
What Do You Really Want?
And lastly, use this time as a bit of a reprieve.
There are people who would kill to have time off work (particularly during summer). Use it as time to start over. Ask yourself what is it that you really want to do? What are you passion about? Where do you want your life to go?
Have you just come back from a long term trip? How do you feel about being back home? Are you finding it difficult to adjust? Has it made you want to stay in your home country or are you more inclined to head off on your travels again? Do you have any advice to beat the travel comedown?