Mixed Feelings on Going Home?

I’m going home really soon. Incredibly freaking soon. Actually, as you’re reading this I am most likely suspended in mid-air somewhere over the Pacific Ocean between Beijing and Vancouver.

Hooray! Right? Sort of? I don’t know.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been vacillating wildly from super excitement to abject fear. I’ll see a picture of a hamburger online, you know a real thick juicy one, and I can’t wait to get home and order one myself. Then I’ll think about all of the responsibilities that come with being home, the idea of having to explain to a hundred and one people what I’m doing with my life, and I want nothing more than to run away forever. Then, in the middle of the night I’ll wake up and, just for a moment, think I’m in my childhood bedroom, and then the home sickness comes flooding in.

I think it’s safe to say I’m confused. And my confusion has onion-like layers to it:

On the surface I’m pretty psyched to head back to the states! I’ve been in East Asia for the better half of 9 months, and well, I’m pretty Asia-ed out. Don’t get me wrong- Asia is still cool, and there is a lot I still haven’t see and long to return to, but for now, I’m ready to retire my chopsticks. If you follow me on twitter or facebook you’ll keep hearing me say how I miss cheese, and while that’s mainly me just complaining, it’s also symbolic of a lot of things I miss about home that can’t be found in China. Cupcakes! Fresh air! Babies wearing pants!


Yes I'm talking to you creepy baby.

Part of me is afraid though. For the past 9 months I’ve been living a life that is truly and authentically me. I have been free of all of those historical restraints, of the person I once was. Will that all fade away when I get home? What if I forget who I am and all the things I’ve been working for? What if I fall back into “normal” life?

I think anyone who has been abroad, or even just away from home for a long period of time can understand this. I remember having the same tugging misgivings when I came home from college for the first time. The very fact that I have that fear makes me think I will probably do anything necessary to make sure that doesn’t happen, but the feat is still there.

Deep down below that is another primal truth: I miss home. I miss my family; a part of me feels terrible for missing out on all of their joys and sorrows over the past 9 months. I miss my cat, and my bed, and the other night I felt a deep and desperate longing for my old teddy bear. I realize that’s probably not the most evolved emotion, but there it is.

Ultimately though, I’m confident in my decision to head home. Going through my trip photos the other morning, I started to feel really amazed. You kind of forget when you’re living your life day to day, but I’ve done a LOT since September that I’m really proud of. I really do think that a rest is what is needed right now. The fact that it’s only temporary, a break before I start other projects (some of which you guys don’t even know about yet!), is comforting as well. I’m going home, but I’m still moving forward.

How did you know it was the right time to go home?

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34 thoughts on “Mixed Feelings on Going Home?”

  1. For me, going back to where I grew up is always trippy after traveling for so long, though I don’t really think of that place as home anymore. In my experience, I wasn’t ever really able to adjust to life there because it’s just not who I am. The culture shock was really intense for me too after I traveled Asia and then went back to North America.

    Enjoy seeing your friends and family… and you’re right, that is a creepy baby! 🙂

    1. I know that a lot of people end up returning to Asia over and over because it just starts to suit them better than the US. I don’t think that will be me, but I do think my lust for travel will make sure I don’t get stuck back in normal life!

  2. I have a constant tug of war between wanting to stay in Australia and wanting to go home. I think even if you find the most perfect place on Earth for yourself, part of you will always deeply miss home because of what you said — missing family and friends and all their joys and sorrows.

    I am really happy for you that you’ve been able to be “Steph” for the better part of a year. I hope it continues, no matter where you wind up next.

    1. Thanks Lauren! I think it’s even harder when you settle and build a life somewhere else- there’s no happy middle ground.

  3. I know exactly how you are feeling… even though I have only been gone a bit over 3 months I will be going home soon too & am kinda scared. I don’t know what to expect. The good this is I am with my family right now for my brothers wedding so it won’t be weird when I do get home. I am worried about my friends… I dont know how they are going to take it & I know they are kinda upset I wont even be home for a month. I know you will be okay… you have been working hard for where you are at. You will realize and thank god for all your blessings. Cheers~

    1. I think one of the nice things about travel is you realize that there’s so much world outside of your friends and family at home. It helps to keep things in perspective.

  4. It’s so cliche to say you just know… but I doubt there is a better answer here.

    I think the bigger question is- How do you know when you’ve been home long enough? I have a feeling that is a question you’ll be asking before you know it.

    Safe travels and enjoy TBEX.

  5. I knew it was time to go home when my US bank account was depleting at a record pace and I knew I still needed to have a little cushion when I got home so I wasn’t totally sponging off of the parents.

    I look back now and think if maybe I had a break in the middle like you are doing, maybe I would have lasted longer. But coming home in the middle seemed like a cop-out. I was this far already, why come home (added expense when I was this far already) and break up the routine?

    I don’t know.

    1. I think it depends a bit on what you’re doing though. Since South America is my next stop it makes sense logistically to stop at home on the way, in which case why NOT take a break?

      I’m also in this for the long term ie-professionally, so it’s not so much a break in the middle as a break in a much longer journey. After South America I’ll probably come home again and then head off to Italy or something.

  6. When I left London to return home, it was the most awful thing – I wasn’t ready at all. In fact, I was just getting even more in love with the city. Depressingly enough, two years later, I still feel like a part of me is there, even though I feel great where I am now. I feel like it was my first big love – you never quite forget about it and it always feels special no matter what.

    I totally understand how you feel! The real shock is when you come home, because although pretty much everything is exactly the same as when you left… somehow it’s different. But eventually you get re-used to everything. It might take some time, though. 😉

    1. I felt the same way when I left London 3 years ago and I STILL miss it pretty badly. It’s a different feeling than I have about Asia so I’m a bit more confident this time around.

  7. When I went home for 2 weeks the first time I had been back in a year it was a really weird experience. Everything was pretty much the same, most of my friends lives hadn’t really changed but what I did realise was that all their lives went on without me. I guess I felt going away the world would just stop and when I went back things would pick up where they left off but what I realised was I no longer belonged there anymore, It no longer felt like my home. It was really quite an uneasy feeling to have I think that’s why it was so easy to leave again! The other thing I realised going back home was home was boring, after the first couple of days of relaxing the novelty wore off and I yearned to get back to somewhere more interesting. Travel and living abroad really does change you, you’re never the same person when you return yet everyone at home seemed to stay the same!

  8. Hi there, well I tell you to be prepared for the change , even if you are going home you are not the same person as the one that left 9 months ago! You will discover that things looks different, but not because they changed but because you have some how “grown up”. TIme passed and things had changed, you, your home, your family. It might even be the case that you won’t be able to relate to things you used to before ( friends, hanging out places) because they developed differently from you. I am not sure if you understand what i am tring to say but the bottom line is : do not expect that Home will be the same as you left it, in all of its aspects. You have changed, (in your true you ?)

  9. I think these feelings are normal after a big, life changing trip. You will be going home a slightly different person and it can be scary to “introduce” that new person to your friends and family. I think that since you will still be moving forward with your new self (with your top secret project!) and your dreams you will be more than okay with your transition back home. Good luck and keep writing!

    Much love,

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