It was no secret that returning home was going to be hard after 2.5 years of traveling. It is not the first time I had to cope with the idea of living a “regular life” (whatever that means). Maybe in an office somewhere. Doing what I’ve learned. Fully integrated into society. Somehow, I can’t remember it being such a struggle for me eight years ago. What changed? Is it my age? The longer duration of the trip? Not having a concrete plan or job for that matter this time? Am I so different now? No fucking clue.
So many people have asked me how I was feeling, now that I am back. I can’t even begin to describe it properly, and it’s hard to not sound like I was judging anyone. The closest I can get is with this: imagine you’ve been living in two dimensions your whole life. You’re totally fine with moving along one axis and maybe another. You leave home and somehow along the way, expand into the third dimension. All of a sudden every possibility, every option, every dream you’ve ever had is in front of you and so real. You can finally move in any direction possible. You learn how to fly: you meet others, who chose to move their lives into the third dimension too, you get inspired, charged with countless ideas for yourself and your future. Obviously the experiences you make, with both people and nature on every corner, will be marking you for the rest of your life. Every single day is a bliss. Now, imagine going back.
Your old world hasn’t changed one bit, except for your friends who in the meantime might have discovered how to cut this two dimensional space diagonally instead of walking along corners. You now have to compress yourself back into those limited dimensions. You push yourself and every little aspect into a world you once knew, but maybe never wasn’t enough for you to begin with.
How can you explain to your friends and to your family what is missing, if they’ve never been in this dimension themselves? They hear the words, but might not understand them really.
The other day, the weight of being back was crushing on top of me while I was in the supermarket. I actually had difficulties breathing. Was it anxiety? I never felt this way before. Push me out of an airplane. No problem. Send me to the deepest trenches, surrounded by sharks. I won’t blink. But taking care of my insurance, taxes, apartment, applying for jobs, even visiting an assessment center… It was the moment where I realised that the “real world” has taken a hold of me again and I was mortified. Now, I had a decision to make and looking back, it seems like the easiest decision of them all: if I think about being here, in my hometown, working as a Marketing Manager right at this moment – does this thought thrill me? Am I waking up every morning saying “yes!”?
Or is there anything out there that can actually stimulate me and genuinely make me happy?
Going through all my options one thing was crystal clear: it isn’t time for me to come back yet. Maybe it never will be or maybe it will. But not now. I need to be three dimensional again. Spread my wings. Follow my heart…