A few months ago, I posted this guide to re-entry back to the States and reverse culture shock. It’s not always easy returning to a society teeming with hustle and bustle, a lack of simplicity, in-your-face marketing, over-consumption, and and an often (not always, but often) out-of-proportion materialism (what we truly need vs. what we want…or are made to ‘think’ we ‘must have’). There can be an underlying sense of entitlement here. We are always taught to dream big and that we can have anything and everything we want. I agree with the positive aspects of this and working hard to reach your goals and dreams, but sometimes it gets mixed up with the importance of material possessions. It can be an overwhelming feeling and problematic to deal with. And we all know that admitting you have a problem is that first step, right? Try to keep it in perspective and remember that just because you are used to doing something one way, doesn’t necessarily make it right or better. I try to make changes where and when I can to my own life, and try not to get sucked back into the vortex of apathy and cocoon of oblivion that living in the United States (and other major developed nations) can sometimes create.
I found an old note that my friend Marsha had sent me when I returned after my first world tour back in 2008. She hit the nail on the head. So I had to pass it along.
What is it like coming home after an extended trip of several months to a year?
- It sucks.
- It feels surreal.
- Everyone asks you ‘what was your favorite place?’, and you want to shoot them, because you just spent 1+ years of your life on the most amazing journey possible and for someone to think that you can simplify it into a one word answer about your favorite place is just a reminder of how far apart you are from the psychology of everyone else.
- Everyone starts to immediately tell you about all of their day-to-day issues and you’ll probably hate it because you actually want to delay hearing about the “real world”.
- You feel relatively unpatriotic (and kind of guilty about that).
- It seems that everyone in the U.S. is either materialistic or fat and often both.
On the other hand, it’s pretty amazing to be back with friends and loved ones, to have a key, a door to put it in, a closet, [your own bed/sheets/pillows] and to have memories that will last a complete lifetime. The end of your journey is only the beginning of a whole new adventure.