I’ve been back home in California for exactly a month and haven’t written a blog post for over two months –my only excuse is the overbearing reverse culture shock I’ve been experiencing. I won’t even call it an excuse because I don’t believe in those — rather, it’s a result of my choices. But I’ll tell ya, it really does exist and it’s no joke!
After living and traveling abroad for sixteen months (4 times longer than I initially planned); I decided to go home. Reasons being my mothers’ relentless guilt trips about me being away, one class left to complete at uni, to get rid of all the stuff I no longer need nor want and to see some familiar faces again.
I was already experiencing the reverse culture shock a few weeks before heading back– just through observation of the environment which I once called “home.” A reoccurring message I kept being told from my loved ones back home was that I must be “prepared for reality” — which was a bit discouraging but I was determined to help them understand my new outlook and aspiration to continue seeking truth and meaning in life.
This determination alone was probably the one thing I was excited most about. I couldn’t wait to share with my friends & family how I’ve self-evolved; hoping they’d be excited and inspired to open their minds to the world beyond themselves.
Okay Okay, so my expectations were a bit high.
I came home and the exact opposite happened — With new eyes, a refreshed mind, a light heart and an abundance of gratitude — I was now deemed a looney.
If you’ve traveled or lived away from home long term; you probably understand exactly where I’m coming from. Before I went abroad I was living my life in accordance to those around me, striving to please my family and “fit in” to the whole of society as I understood it.
Being far away from home and out of my comfort zone for 16 months — I felt a pure sense of liberation where I was able to bare my soul and fully be myself. Where I can wander to seek local foods and flavors to feed my mind, my heart and my soul. Where I was able to gain a new perspective and pursue a fresh vision for my life and my passion. Where I was able to find endless sources of inspiration and motivation.Where I was able to thrive at my own speed while expanding my boundaries. Where I would meet amazing new people; some of whom are now lifetime friends that share similar goals and dreams. Where I was able to play and experiment to my heart’s desire. Where I was able to meet and become acquainted with the most important person in my life – myself. All of which contributed to my personal growth but most of all taught me the true meaning of self love –
the kind of love and gratitude which can only be shaped by developing one’s consciousness (the intangible).
Then, I come home and it’s as if time stood still. Everything appears the same and even topics of conversations haven’t changed much (with the exception of Kim Kardashian’s 72 day marriage (Like, OMG)). I was having difficulty adjusting to the culture which I grew up in! I haven’t had a TV my entire time abroad and decided to check out what’s on TV these days…..I’ll tell you what, Pain killers! lot’s of them!! Do you have a headache coming on? Tranquilizers! If you don’t take them, you’re gonna be nervous! Oh gosh, why am I suddenly so nervous? Anti-aging and anti-cellulite creams, oh shit I’m getting older, I should be using them, NOW! Food, more food, the best food, McFood! Insurances! You have to insure everyTHING, from your toilet paper to your home & life, OR ELSE you’re screwed, because what if…?! Inflation, economic crises, currency ups and downs! We must save, invest, multiply, we have to have more, to have…! — Off goes the TV.
Thank goodness I’m too cheap to pay for cable now…… I can sense this paranoia all around me: don’t touch it! don’t trust! watch out! and I can see why….I observe around and I see people running around stressed, unaware, anxious, unkind, impatient and unloving. We run around racing for delusional “achievements,” fancy titles, bigger and better things, striving to maintain and/or alter our external appearance, racing to appear better, powerful, respected?…. and then, we die.
This is the response I want to tell my friends and family when they ask me why I’m not readjusting to my “old” life or why I’ve changed so much. The truth is — I don’t want to “readjust” and regress because that defeats the purpose of progressing. I believe that life is about moving forward, it’s about living truthfully, doing things and living according to your values. It’s about cultivating relationships. It’s about sharing the good and the bad; doing what we can to help those around us realize their purpose. It’s about recognizing that we are all ONE, everyone — seeking a sense of belonging and empowerment while facing the same struggles.
It’s about REALIZING that life is a beautiful gift and we should seek not only to experience it but to LIVE IT.
People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it – walk.
Despite this tiny obstacle I’m facing with reverse culture shock — I have a clearer idea of how I want to live my life, even if it means being a looney. – until the next destination, I’ll be enjoying good ol’ California! ;]
Do you have a similar experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock? Please share!