How does it feel to go back home after living abroad?
A few months ago, I sat down with two Polish friends in an Irish Pub in Copenhagen. We talked about many different things and I felt inspired by their input, as I always do when I find myself among people who come from different places. Foreigners (to you, which potentially, could be anyone…) always bring their own backgrounds into the conversation and that is, to me, what makes these conversations particularly rich.
That day, we knew it, was one of the last nights we would spend together as I was a few weeks away from going back “home”, a home which hadn’t been mine for the past 5 and a half years. It was about to be special, in many ways, and our conversation slowly went on to touch on the most interesting topics to the nomad’s life: being “back”.
Surprisingly enough, I had never talked nor heard anyone talk about what one of my two friends mentioned: pressure.
Oh, the pressure of going back home… Where do I start? Does being “back” really mean being “back” to where we left from, to the mindset we were in before flying out, to the same routine, to the same house, to the same people?
Going back home is very hard – because everything can be the same and yet nothing feels as it fits anymore. But the expectations are the same. Your parents expect the same from you. Your siblings. Your friends. Your country’s workplace. Your neighborhood. Nothing has changed but you have and everything needs to be updated.
The food you couldn’t live without suddenly doesn’t look appealing to you anymore; you find yourself having to look for conversation topics to discuss with your best friends when you used to spend so much time together without ever wondering why you’d have to leave; the places you used to love have become dull; no job position seems to be of interest for your profile and your desires; the people you thought could understand you the best have no answer to comments or questions nor does it seem they have any interest in listening to you anymore.
And it’s hard not to think it is bad. That you are bad, that they’re bad, that the food is bad, that the neighborhood is bad, that the work situation is bad, that the people are bad, that everything is bad. It is hard because, somehow, it feels like it. Because in that other place, you found this amazing food that seems to have been made for you; you found this company to work in, which you loved so much you could have created yourself; you made such special friends you wished could have come along with you; you’ve seen so many places where you’d see yourself live a daily life; you’ve seen so much that what you have now, back home, does not seem enough, does not seem to fit who you are anymore.
Everyone, everything – they keep expecting the same things from you. The same behaviors, the same way to dress, the same tastes, the same desires, when maybe, maybe, something has changed within you, some things have changed, you don’t really know why, but you find it hard to explain and you’re not sure where it comes from, but it’s there, it’s different, it’s special and you wished you could do something about it.
I think it’s about updating and being okay with the change that’s happened within. Being okay with the fact that you’re not the same. And that it’s a good thing.
Maybe our home countries can deal with our changes, too (and by home countries, I mean everything around us, the people, the food, the landscapes, the plants, the animals, etc.); but we have to make the update, be proactive and change what has to be changed. Updating might not work, but it’ll be worth the try. And then the world is still open, and there’s still time and places to go…