Everyone told me the most common question I’d be asked when I got home was “So what’s next?” This was a question I was ready for. A question I had an answer for. Graduate School. Josef Korbel. Done. Easy.
The most common question I got though? “How is it being back home?” Each time I hear it, my heart deflates a bit. I shrink a little inside and my heart wanders overseas.
It’s hard adjusting from waking up to blank, unknown mornings. Letting new air fill your lungs, feeling your heart race and the adrenaline kick as you step out into new dirt. New people. New ideas. New thoughts. Open space. Blank slate. Wild dancing. Exasperated sighs. Smiles. So many smiles. Being scared. Terrified. Doubting yourself. Trusting yourself. Learning.
Everyday. Feeling those emotions a million times over.
“Welcome back to reality.” Is another phrase I’ve heard over and over. As if the salt water I swallowed during that night swim wasn’t real. Or the little boy that held my hand on the bus wasn’t real. That knowing your neighbors and the people you buy your food from isn’t reality. As if every emotion, realization or lesson I learned was somehow less real than the western experience in America.
How is it being home? It’s hard.
Sometimes I wake up and wonder if it was all a dream. And other days I stare at my pack wondering if I could throw my shoes inside it and take off for a week. Other days I feel so overwhelmed with guilt and frustration and want to be back reading my book by candlelight.
Today I stopped staring at my pack, and started digging through the pockets. Looking for anything. Maybe something left in a pocket. Folded into the corner.
I felt my heard sink a bit more and more as I felt around in each crevasse. Nothing. Nothing. And then. I found this.
And I remembered the feelings I felt holding that ticket in the Manila airport, about to embark on the first leg of my solo-backpacking around SE Asia. I was terrified. I was leaving the life I had created, learned from, grown with and loved for 3+ years.
I realized, in that moment, holding that ticket again, I was scared. I am terrified. I am out of my element. I’m fighting a new challenge. A new journey.
During my yoga training in India, my teacher told us “a true yogi feels home wherever they are”. At the time this really resonated with me- traveling, experiencing and exploring is easy for me. I felt at home.
What I didn’t realize is that a true and pure being is one who feels home even in the most difficult of places. Someone who allows their reactions and surroundings to act as their teacher- letting them examine themselves in the best and worst of situations. They open their heart, and finds themselves- whether it is in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India or Minnesota.
I’m incredibly thankful for my journey. But it’s time to move on to the next challenge. Below is a video I took while traveling around Asia for my cousin.