I’ve been home for a little over a month now. I don’t really know how to describe what the transition back feels like.
It’s not bad.
In fact, it feels really normal and fine in a lot of ways. I love being around my friends and family again. I love the hot sun and driving through rural gorgeousness. I love muggy nights on back porches with twinkle lights and brews. I love the sound of cicadas as I fall asleep. But I’ll get hit with a pang of shock and sadness at any given moment.
Because I miss cobblestone streets and secondhand smoke. I miss dancing in the terrible dance bars. I miss the weird things that happen on public transportation and walking by a freaking castle on a daily basis. I miss my friends and kirk and Steampunk crew. I miss chips, cheese and curry. I miss being offered a cup of tea all the time. I miss walking everywhere. I miss every little bit of it except for the wind and lack of Vitamin D.
I know from my own experiences and from watching various friends and aquaintances go through the “coming back home” from wherever you were for however long…that it can be really, really rough. People get stuck. They get depressed. They isolate. The job doesn’t come as quickly as they want. The friends aren’t around. You feel different. You feel lost. It’s not what you expected. You get anxious about waiting. Nothing goes right. It feels like this whole part of your life was just a weird dream. Oh, transition. Patience is truly a virtue.
I have been determined to not let myself slip into this place. Do people slip into it? Is it a choice? Or does it just happen? I don’t know. Maybe it’s not that dualistic. It’s probably a little of both. Either way, I have felt my foot slipping a lot in the last week or two, but I know I can also make choices to avoid just flat out falling.
So, here is what I have found to be beneficial in making the transition as smooth as possible. Hopefully, if you are/have been/will be in the same boat, there’s something helpful in the list.
One. Change your perspective. Rather than being bored and lonely and focusing on everything I don’t have right now (i.e. a job, my own place, my own car, a vibrant social life, routine, etc.) I want to choose to see this as a time where I’m free to do a lot of things. In a matter of weeks or months I will likely be back in the daily grind and will wish more than anything that I had all the time I do right now. Why waste it?!
Two. Do what you love and do a lot of it. I love creating. This last year I missed that so much. Grad school required me to flex my left brain a lot. The right is a little rusty, which makes me nervous but you have to start somewhere. Like now. I started knitting a new scarf. I’m teaching myself how to embroider. I’ve been sketching more. I just painted over an old canvas to begin something new. I’ve been cooking awesome meals because I have the time to. I’ve surprised myself with how diligent I’ve been at morning prayer and meditation. I pulled out my kickboxing gloves from Farrell’s. Keeping your head and hands busy is crucial.
Three. Say YES to everything. Normally this gets me in trouble and I work relatively hard not to say yes to everything. But in this season, it’s been a good thing. Right now in this little window of time, I have freedom to say yes to everything. How awesome is that?! Want to come over and watch a movie? Yes. Want to go on a road trip? Yes. Want to come to my potluck? Yes. Want to teach this art class? Yes. Want to volunteer here? Yes. Want to housesit? Yes. Do you want to come stay with me after surgery? Yes. Do you want to go on a bike ride? Yes.
Four. Have fun. Today I painted outside and then I came in and moved the furniture so I could do cartwheels and dance around like a lunatic. By myself. And it was really. freaking. fun. After that, I made myself a gin and tonic and jumped on my bed. And then I took a bubble bath. I mean…it beats watching TV. Or at least I think it does.
But seriously. You should do cartwheels and dance to this, too.
Five. People, people, people. Re-connect. Make the effort even if/when people aren’t making it with you. And with the right friends, be open about how you’re dealing with everything. You might be surprised by people’s insight. You also might be surprised at how good it feels to be social when you force yourself out of the woe is me/sulky/I’m cool doing this all on my own headspace. And if you can stay in touch with the people you love oh so much in your ‘other home’ doooooo it.
Six. Try to balance. I completely acknowledge that it is important and normal to let yourself fully feel and wrestle with all the complicated, frustrating, weird, messy, transitional shit, too. Don’t get me wrong. I know you can’t just switch it off and be a busy, social, happy bee until life’s pieces fall together. Reflecting is good. Bumming out okay. But no one has to stay there.
Seven. Pep talk to yourself on the regs. Oh man. For as positive and optimistic and proactive as all this ^ makes me sound. I am full of doubt and worry and anxiety. I have to tell myself truths all the time to counteract everything else in my head that is much louder and more obnoxious. These pep talks usually happen in the bathroom mirror and in the car when I’m driving. But they work. I know when I start pep talking myself it means that I’ve been paying attention to my thoughts. It’s like I’m catching them and holding them up to the light in order to examine whether or not they’re legitimate or if I need some rewiring. My best friend has this notecard on his door where he wrote “Remember the upsides”. If you suck at catching your own thoughts, put reminders to stay positive in places you will see them. It’s simple.