The idiosyncrasies of spending a considerable amount of time abroad evokes many emotions. At times we seem to teeter between the sheer awe and excitement of things not seen back home and yet somehow longing for the familiar. Many times we are required to give more thought to the things that are usually taken for granted in our everyday lives. Emotions are over pouring. Anticipation, pleasure, excitement, apprehension, surprise, boredom, frustration, loneliness and of course homesickness are among some emotions we experience while abroad. Certainly everyone is different and emotions are subjective. Yet arguably, sometimes even the smallest occurrences provoke homesickness no matter how much you're enjoying where you are. I was surprised this was happening to me of all people. I travel frequently and at times alone, this felt unnatural and a false position of who I am; adaptable and someone who feels at home all over the world.
There comes a time, however, when wherever you are in the world, you find yourself in a space between wanting to return home and feeling at home where you are.
The role technology plays in our everyday lives at home tremendously affect us abroad. The inability to distract ourselves with technological devices that offer us false sense of companionship, may leave us feeling even more alone than we really are. This "false" sense of connectivity we lose also leaves us feeling disconnected and when "connected" to our social media outlets the notorious FOMO or "fear of missing out" quickly ensues. While FOMO is normal, the problem is that it robs us of accepting and enjoying where we are in the world and what we're doing, even if it's nothing at all. Social media outlets such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and others only heighten the chances of catching this acronym that threaten to steal the beauty and appreciation for what is going on in our own lives, by comparing it to someone else's.
Perception can stir up emotions as well. How are the locals perceiving me? Worrying about being seen and in some cases treated differently as a tourist. It's like writing with your wrong hand. It feels weird and frustrating in that it's the beginning stages but you know that with each passing day you'll get closer to mastering it.
The food is different and the emotions and nostalgia attached to food can cause discomfort as well, not just physically but psychologically, as our favorite foods many times bring us comfort by reminding of us of places or people in our lives. The currency is different, so every time you buy something you are constantly calculating the ratio in your mind. Signs are (possibly) in another language and transportation and other small day to day dealings seem to be a bit magnified. As normal yet complex as this feeling is, friends and family back home may inadvertently suggest otherwise, that it is in fact abnormal and quite simple, to which they may simply reply: Come home.
Existing in this "space" is real and inevitably results in action. But what choice will you make? And how will you know which choice to make? Will you go home or stay? Possibly even more frightening, is the idea of losing something with either way you decide to go. As Manifesting and Presence coach Joy Holland said: "Live your dream no matter what happens in the world." Looking back in retrospect I did not know what to call this "funk" so to speak, I was in, while spending time in the Marvelous City of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This awareness alone, could have perhaps aided in circumventing the peculiar aspects of living abroad which lead to my premature return home and who knows, I might still be there.
Although my disappointment lies in what seemed like the end, it was really only the beginning. A disappointing moment that after having stepped away from it for some time, can instead be interpreted as guidance and helpfulness. As I reflect on this epiphany and acknowledge this space it seems to promise almost to make the nature of Being, both physically and mentally abroad more tolerable and much more comfortable. The allure of rushing back home and reconnecting with the familiar will loom, but be wary of the enticing impulse to rush back to the limiting mindset that our own societal norms often perpetuate. Because not long after being back home will you long for that faraway place again, and realize it wasn't so bad after all. Enjoy being. Especially when abroad. Especially when it feels weirdly weird and you're ready to pick up and head out. Because in that place of discomfort is where the real growth begins.