It’s a funny thing, coming home. Nothing really changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you. – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Did you just come home from a trip and find yourself lost, not knowing if you belong here anymore? Have you ever had the feeling of not fitting in because you have changed so much and now have nothing in common with people at home anymore? Well that is totally normal and belongs to traveling like sleeping in a dorm. It is the so called reverse culture shock. You need to adjust your life after traveling because of all the changes you went through. You need to find a way to fit back in your daily life and regain happiness.
However, you don’t have to do this alone. There are so many people that must face the same challenge and why not encouraging and helping each other through this rather difficult but also rewarding time of self-development and gaining confidence.
In this third episode of the series on overcoming post-travel depression, I am sharing my story and experience of how I managed to fit back in after traveling the world by deciding to stand out and how this changed my life to the better. This post is about getting your Mindset in the right place and overcome the feeling of not feeling connected to your tribe anymore.
I hope this inspires and helps you along your journey of finding a spot in this world and get a step closer to overcome your post travel depression.
What you’ll read about:
- Being different
- Finding out what you want
- Fitting in vs. standing out
- Choosing to create a life according to your own means
Let’s dive in.
So, when I got home after my first big travels in 2015 I felt lost. I didn’t know what was happening. I had very bad post travel depression.
1. Being different
My whole teenager life I always had the impression I was different and somehow didn’t really belong to where I grew up. Though after this trip I felt even more unstuck. I had nothing in common with the people from back home. My point of view on the world and my self-awareness changed by 180° during my travels. I was a different person when I came home. Even my parents said I changed and that means a lot.
Besides the usual post travel depression, I was going through, I had to face miss understandings with the people around me. No matter what we were talking about, my opinion on things was always different than those of my friends. I just saw things in another way. I told them many times that there was nothing holding me here, of cause I missed my family but at some point in life you move out anyway and aren’t seeing them every day anymore.
They didn’t really understand why I wasn’t feeling at home here, how I could not miss anything while I was traveling and why I was craving this travel lifestyle so much that I would screw everything at home just to go traveling again. They were the opinion traveling is just for fun and nothing serious. For them it’s a waste of time, fun but a waste of time and they don’t get the impact it has on your personality and how it changes your life and helps you grow. No matter how hard I tried to explain how I felt and thought, no one really got me right.
I wasn’t angry, how could I blame them if they didn’t experience it themselves and now have a hard time to imagine what I was talking about.
Just if you have travelled you can relate to the desire to go away again, feeling unstuck and called to explore the world.
Though I wished I had someone that would understand and could help me go through this hard time. I wished I had someone to talk to and share this process of self-development with.
Related: 4 reasons to travel more
Through traveling I discovered my true wishes, I got to know me and my desires better and finally have a better idea of what I want and don’t want my life to be.
Though because I found my new discovered thoughts and believes being so different to what was common in my surroundings I didn’t really know what to do. I was home now and had to sort out my life, find a way to fit back in and continue my life.
I can’t just travel the world all the time and don’t prepare for the future. Or well I could but that was not what I wanted. I still want to build a career (maybe not the traditional career, but still, I wanted to get successful with something I loved doing), so I needed to do something serious for a while to get things going.
Also, I knew I couldn’t be happy at all if I would not find a way to adjust to my life here and get along with my friends and family.
So, what I needed to do is…
2. Figure out what I really wanted
I said above that traveling gave me a better impression of what I want out of life. However, it also confused me because it made the gap between the two things I want in life, traveling and career, even bigger. I had no idea how I could fit both together.
So, I took time to think about everything. I needed time for myself to figure things out. Sometimes you need to step away from the noise of society to truly find your thoughts.
I wrote down all the things I enjoyed during my travels and what I wanted to include in my lifestyle here. In addition, I wrote down what I didn’t like on my life here. I made a list and then tried to find ways to include and exchange routines and small things like getting up early or going for a walk. Also, I changed my overall Mindset to not spending money at home and instead dedication all my time and money to save up for my next trip. I’d shifted my focus on spending my free time traveling and exploring nearby places.
I listened to my heart despite what everyone was telling. Just because I study that doesn’t mean I’m towed to this pace. I can study from abroad and fly home for exams, I can work during semester and travel the whole semester break. There are so many ways to get both, you just need to develop a strategy and work for it.
After finding out what I wanted, I needed to get my Mindset on fitting into society right. I had to understand the difference of fitting in and standing out and its impact on my personal growth and overall success and happiness in life.
3. You won’t stand out by fitting in
As humans, we tend to want to fit in because it gives us the feeling of belonging to someone or something. We need it to identify ourselves. Though that is very dangerous because by identifying yourself by the group or society you’re part of you are very likely to lose your own beliefs and opinions.
To find happiness and succeed in life we need to get rid of the thought of needing to fit to a certain group of people. You don’t have to be like someone else, look like someone else or live the same life as someone else.
What you need to do is being different, being unique. You won’t impress people by being ordinary, you must be extraordinary to leave an impact.
Understand that by standing out, by being who you are with all your flaws and insecurities you are the most perfect person you can be. Stand for what you believe in, have an opinion and share it. Screw what other people think is right or wrong for you. It is your life and you get to live it the way you want.
It is okay to not be part of a group or think totally different than the rest of your society as long as you’re happy and true to yourself. Traveling gives you the beauty of knowing who you truly are and what your deepest believes look like. Don’t throw this away just because you feel the necessity of fitting into your society.
Accept the changes you went through during your travels and find people that have alike beliefs. I know it sounds easier than it is but at this point you have to cut out all the people and things that no longer serve you. This will give you room to discover new, great things that will fit better to your new you and automatically give you more happiness. Also you will have more time and energy to meet likeminded people with whom you can share the stoke of traveling and self-development.
4. Choose to create a life according to your own means
The secret of fitting back in after traveling, the adjustment you must take after your trip is to accept that you won’t be happy or able to live your best life by fitting in. You will only reach true success in life if you stand out. Know what you want and stand behind it. Look for people that think the same way, even though they might be far away. Look for communities online if you can’t find people offline that share the same interests. And stop caring about what everyone says. It is your life and you get to do with it whatever you want. Even if it is crazy stuff, go do it! That way life is more fun and you will gain greater happiness.
In general, you can say life is never a straight line. You must go off track to discover the good things and real beauty of life. So, don’t throw away the incredible changes you made while traveling and try to fit back in. Rather stand out and create your own life according to your means.
Do whatever you want to do and spend time with whoever you want to spend time with.
Coming home isn’t easy but once you figured a few things out you will see that it is possible to overcome a reverse culture shock and return as a stronger, more confident you with a huge desire to travel the world and aim for more personal growth.
I hope this post inspired you to be yourself no matter what. Screw what other people think of you and live the life you want to live. If you haven’t read the other post of this little series of post travel issues you should check them out.
Also stay tuned for some more on how to combine travel and studying and keep a travel-life balance.
Furthermore, if you know someone dealing with fitting back in, make sure to share this post with him or here. We all need help sometimes and I hope my story can help others overcoming the hard times of coming home.