If you’ve read any of my recent blog posts or follow me on social media, I’m sure you’ll be well aware that I spent the first four months of the year in Australia and New Zealand. It really was the best experience of my life for countless reasons, one of which being that I had the breathing space and time to learn lots about myself.
When you’re away for that length of time, with limited internet access and minimal possessions, home feels (and almost is) a million miles away. The last thing on your mind is coming back, so when you do, you’re not always mentally prepared. Here are some things I’ve noticed during my first month on home turf.
Everything and everyone feels overwhelming
I went shopping with my mum the day after I got back, with severe jetlag in tow, and could not cope with how busy the high street was. There was people (loud, pushy, fast-moving people) everywhere. My anxiety thrived in that environment, having acclimatised myself to the most chilled, underpopulated nations on the planet. I booked an Uber home sharpish.
I also found that making conversation with friends and colleagues was a little bit of a struggle, because I’d practically spoken only to Taylor for all that time. Also, where do you even start? Happy new year? How was your winter? Been up to much? I was shocked by how quickly I’d lost the ability to make small talk.
Having a routine is the new abnormal
In the first few weeks of being away, not knowing the time, or the date, or even the day, was oddly refreshing. We’d set off for a food shop, only to realise it was a Sunday and everywhere was shut. Once we even forgot it was Good Friday, and another time we failed to notice (for quite some time) that the clocks went back by an hour.
You’re in your own little bubble of doing whatever you want, whenever you want, so returning to a regimented routine was something that’s taken time to adjust to. Having said that, within a week or so it felt like I’d never been away. Leading me on to my next point…
Travelling life is a distant memory
The amount of times I’ve had to scroll through my camera roll just to check I actually went away and didn’t dream the whole experience up is worrying! I slotted back into life at home and life at work pretty quickly. Once the questions and catch-ups are out of the way, it’s business as usual.
There’s a whirlwind of day-to-day jobs and responsibilities and deadlines you get swept up into, and before you know it, you’re right back where you started before you went. This realisation was the hardest part for me. I’m glad I have my daily journal, blog posts and pics to look back on – I definitely recommend documenting your trip if you travel. You’ll rely on it for reminiscing at a later date.
People don’t want to hear about your trip
… and I don’t blame them! It can be a bit boring seeing other people’s holiday snaps; something I was very aware of when I was away (even as I uploaded them). It’s difficult, because the last chunk of your life has been spent crammed with things you want to share with your mates, but you feel like everyone’s going to roll their eyes as soon as you say, ‘When I was in Australia…’. It’s hard to strike a balance.
I’m not too sure what I want from life
Sounds like a big one… but it’s okay. I have time to figure it out. The issue is, before I went away I was only thinking as far ahead as the trip. I wasn’t worrying about what the next ‘big thing’ in my life would be, because I can only concentrate on one thing at a time (much to Taylor’s frustration).
I missed people (and my dog), but I can honestly say I didn’t miss the UK in the slightest. I don’t know what I expected, but I think that not getting homesick made me question my long-term future in London more than ever. Thoughts of taking the odd year out to go and live and work elsewhere have been lingering, but that certainly won’t be happening for a while. Still – it’s good to dream!
I couldn’t live without my people
Not that I didn’t already know this, but I have some really wonderful people in my life. My family are amazing, and I have kind, lovely, thoughtful friends. Reconnecting with everyone has been such a pleasure and made me value relationships old and new even more.
Not much else has changed
It seems like I’ve come up with a fairly long list of revelations, but on the whole not much is different. A few buildings have popped up, a few shops have shut, people have had haircuts, I’ve got a new car, there’s been leavers and joiners at work, the flowers are blooming, the sun is out. But that’s all, really.
It’s tricky feeling like you’ve changed, even if only slightly, while everything else is the same. But it’s also a comfort to know that life goes on no matter where you are. The world is a big old place. There’s so much to see, so much to do, so many people to meet; but what a comfort it is knowing home is always waiting for you exactly where you left it.