When I set out on this adventure, it was never my intent to be gone for as long as I could, or “until the money ran out”. I knew that I wanted this trip would have an end date, but wasn’t ever exactly sure when that day would come. I wanted to travel until I was done. I couldn’t really define when that was, but I knew a time would come when I would be ready to return. In my mind, a year was what I thought would be ideal, but not knowing what I was really getting myself into, it was just a point of reference.
Now, 53 weeks after leaving the USA, I am done and ready….I am coming home. I am a ball of emotions, to be honest. My thoughts have been consumed about my impending return and here is how I would break it down:
10% Scared Shitless
I think anyone who has been away from home as long as I have, will be able to relate to this mix of emotions. But, I’ll break my thoughts down a bit further.
It is truly impossible for me to describe how excited I am to see my family. Prior to leaving last year, I sold my house and got rid of nearly all my possessions. My amazing gracious sister and her family, opened her home to me and my pup, without hesitation. I lived with my sister, brother in law, two nieces, one nephew, and two dogs for three months! It was a quite the change after living on my own for so many years, but it was awesome. I loved being able to be so close and see my favorite little people every day. With my return imminent, my sister and I have worked it out so that I will be able to surprise each of them separately. I am looking forward to seeing their smiles, seeing how much they have grown, and giving them the biggest bear hugs!
At the same time last year I gave my sweet dog, Sawyer, his last hug from his momma. Knowing he was in the best hands between my sister and friends, I set off to pursue my selfish dream. I have missed him incredibly over the last year and I cannot wait for our reunion. Let’s home he remembers (and doesn’t hate) me! 🙂
Traveling solo definitely has its advantages and disadvantages. One huge downside is not having someone to share in the adventure. Although I was able to meet people pretty much where ever I went and making some really amazing lasting friendships, that is really rare. More often, you meet people, hang out, go sightseeing together, share a cab, etc. The worst part? You have the same damn conversation with every one….”Where are you from? How long have you been traveling? Where have you been?”etc. It has become nauseating to the point where I have become more and more antisocial.
I am in desperate need of my real friends, real conversation, and just being able to be myself. I want to speak normally, versus in what I consider “broken English” because so many people cannot understand me. I haven’t had an intellectual conversation in ages. Is it possible that I could have become dumber in this time away? Some days it sure feels like it.
Considering that I have been unemployed for over a year, you would think I would be used to it by now. While I have been traveling, it felt as though I had a purpose. Therefore, I didn’t really feel like I was not working – I was constantly busy and moving. But now I am faced with the reality of coming home and having to integrate back into the “real world” and I am nervous.
I have a lot of time to think about this and rather than look at being unemployed as scary, I am trying to look at it as an opportunity. How many times in your life do you have a completely blank slate where you have the opportunity to redefine yourself? It is quite rare as we typically jump from job to job as responsibilities flood our lives and there is not much time to figure out our passion and determine what would truly makes us happy in life. That is why I am determined to figure this out for myself.
My former employers were amazing in letting me know, upon my departure, that if I wanted to come back and work for them again, the door would be open. I could not be more grateful to them for this. I enjoyed the work I did previously and the people I worked with, but it was never really my passion. I am looking forward to meeting with my former bosses to understand how to company has grown and changed within the last year and what kind of opportunities they might have available. While I have not made a decision as to whether I will return or not as of yet, I know one thing. I am determined to find a career that makes me happy versus just having a job that is comfortable. This trip has reinforced that you have to make the most of this life you are given. When we spend an inordinate amount of our lives working, shouldn’t be doing something that truly makes us happy?
Still, not having a job or income to return to is quite scary. But, now is the perfect time for me to take some risks and see what happens. I took one of the biggest risks of my life in traveling for the last year, and it has been the best decision I ever made. So, while it may be easy to go back to what is comfortable, I have become very adept at living in the uncomfortable. I want my life to be defined by doing something bigger, contributing more, and making a last impact. What will that be? Your guess is as good as mine at this point. And while that does make me nervous, it excites me even more.
10% Scared Shitless
To be absolutely honest, I am petrified to return to the US. I have no doubt that I will have reverse culture shock upon returning. I am not the same person I was when I left and I definitely think it will be a bit of an adjustment for me to reintegrate. When you travel to countries, many that are considered third world, and are immediately accepted and welcomed, invited into strangers homes, served home cooked meals while only being able to communicate via hands and pictures, it changes you. These countries and these people that have so little, are the ones that give so much.
So many Americans are clueless as to what the world is like outside of their own bubble. We are a country that offers amazing opportunities to our citizens, in many aspects of life. But yet, we are a country overrun by greed, self-interest, consumerism, and constantly trying to outdo each other. I am a proud American, and not once of this trip have ever denied my nationality (as some travelers do). But, I would be lying if I said that I could not wait to get back to the US for the lifestyle.
In the End…
I believe that our life is a novel and each day, we are writing our story. Chapters begin and end as we make decisions that will define our course moving forward. As I close out an epic chapter in my life, I am excited as to what the future holds. I have traveled this incredible world, witnessed the most unbelievable sights, attained inconceivable experiences, conquered fears, accomplished goals, made lifelong friends, laughed, cried, and ultimately lived my dream. After 382 days, I am coming home on 4 February 2015. Colorado, I cannot wait to see you next week.