After spending a really long time on the road, coming back home has been quite a shock, and I’m finding it very hard to adjust and fit in again. I spent 15 months riding across South America solo, and when I came back to Europe, the first year of being back to the matrix was really difficult! I had a very hard time adapting to the daily grind, accepting the rules and regulations of the Western world, and interacting with people – the fact that most folks were only interested in sports, TV news, shopping, and social media was a big shock, and I felt very out of place for a very long time. Any tips?
The experience you are describing is very common for anyone who has spent time away from home, whether on an extended vacation to a foreign land or years on the road on a motorcycle. You’ve been exploring the world, having amazing, challenging, and sometimes painful adventures while folks at home have, for the most part, continued their regular, day-to-day routines. You’ve been in control of your choices, timelines, and interactions but once back home you’re being asked to step into the rules and expectations of others. What may have matched before you left is now wildly out of sync after your return.
How to cope? The first thing is to give yourself time and to recognize what is happening both to you and to those around you. You’ve each changed but not necessarily in the same direction or at the same pace. Compassionate understanding can help ease some of the discomfort until you figure out next steps.
What’s your plan? Do you have another adventure you’re looking forward to, thus can you see work as just a necessary stepping-stone to your next big ride? If you’re home for the long haul, then what do you want your life to look like with your new perspective? Is it time to change careers, find new friends, or learn a new skill?
Once home, using the Internet to stay connected with others who understand your experiences, can share your frustrations, and who intuitively get what you’re going through can be a valuable support. Finding groups in your area that not only share your passions, but also your disdain for what to you is now trivial can be refreshing and sustaining.
Sometimes the fantasy is that after having spent so much time away, and often alone, is that you’ll relish the return home.In that case, the disappointment is often greater when reality hits that you now feel so out of place despite being surrounded by friends. Recognizing that dissonance and allowing room for those feelings to sort themselves out may be the best you can do until you re-acclimate and find your way. It might simply be one of the residual costs for being willing to chuck it all in pursuit of your dreams. I’m imagining, upon reflection, it’s well worth it.
PHOTO: PAUL STEWART