At the time we embarked for our experience abroad, we were probably enthusiastic and lighthearted. Now for whatever reasons, we may consider coming back. That step is particularly uneasy to take. We may be stuck for a while, unable to mourn what will allow us to leave. Here are some of the obstacles we may encounter at the time we face the decision to come back home.
1. The place you left does not exist anymore and you are not the same person either.
You may be longing for your home country, expecting to find the same exact place you left behind. Good friendships, habits, familiarity, identification to the culture, … That is partly unrealistic, as your good friends are probably now less available, have families and have moved away themselves as well. Your habits are outdated, places where you used to go are closed or are not of your age anymore. Your parents grew older, living with them could deteriorate your relationship, it was easier to miss them from afar. Being a few years older, you are not the same person. Your taste has changed. In a way, you don’t belong here anymore.
2. Living back in your home country is actually very different from the last holidays you spent there
You surely have been enjoying those intense stays at home, where everybody was available and eager to see you. From that perspective, being around your close relatives seemed to be like a permanent Christmas party. This is a skewed perception. Be aware of that. Everyday life tends to be the same everywhere. We are stressed, overbooked, are unavailable and dedicate a lot of time to administrative boring tasks.
3. People there have chosen another lifestyle
The expat community, the cosmopolitan life that you have is certainly a parallel universe for them. Being single after your thirties, still going out to parties during the weekend, having a rich lively sexual life and enjoying anonymity was maybe your normality. You will be now confronted with another type of normality. Not because your home country is outdated and narrow minded, but because this is a community of people that have chosen to settle down and to build long-lasting relationships. This inevitably implies less social movement, more importance given to the public opinion, gossip, where everyone knows everyone. Starting from scratch in such an established environment could be challenging. It could be a relief to keep in touch with an international community wherever you are.
4. You will find what you left behind, be prepared
You left your home, because you weren’t happy, you were feeling a lack of meaning, you couldn’t stand your parents, broke up. You put those things under the rug, time passed and now it seems it won’t be such a great deal to face that. Maybe you even forgot the reason you first left. Take your time and be prepared. What is left behind will be there waiting for you. Fortunately, you are undoubtedly stronger, wiser and that will be such a great satisfaction, to see that you can now manage what was unbearable.
5. You may be just repeating the same experience as before
You come back to your country and experience the same forgotten frustrations, see that you want to leave for the same reasons you did before and, don’t find more meaning being close to relatives. You are lucky, now you will certainly feel more coherent and peaceful assuming your lifestyle. Sometimes we need to live things in flesh and bone, to truly make our mind up. That’s legitimate. Nevertheless, if you see yourself bouncing back and forth, from one place to another, it could be wise to break that circle and assume your decision whatever it is. Even adopting a nomadic lifestyle is a valid choice when done consciously.
6. It will be less entertaining and not really pleasant in the short term
Starting a new life could be like learning to play violin. Utterly frustrating for at less a year and then little by little surprisingly rewarding. Stand your ground, be patient, constantly proactive and disciplined. You will grow a lot, overcoming that challenging period. Be prepared, as you will bitterly regret your decision to come back at the beginning and feel some intense urges to cancel your plans. Your ability to manage these feelings and be steady despite all of this will be your salvation.
7. You feel in–between, nostalgic in a way
Going back to your home country you will probably feel homesick, but the other way around. We humans are like this. Never fully satisfied, longing for what we don’t have. Writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal can be a great support to help you remember more accurately, the way that you were feeling at the time you took the decision to put an end to your expat life.
8. You are a failure if you come back
You may have told yourself a variation of that thread of thoughts: If I would be happy where I was, I would not need to come back. Something is wrong with me. I was not happy because of me. People will see I was not able to build my happiness on my own. It is better that none knows. This is true people unduly judge your experience. You can be proud of yourself; this is truly admirable to recognize one’s limits and needs and stand firmly responsibly for it.
9. Inertial force and fear of losing your investment
A common trap is to think that as you spent a great deal of time and energy where you are, it would be a pity to spoil all this out of urgency and badly managed anxiety. That logic will push you to postpone again and again the moment to leave. You may be thinking “I know what I will lose, but I don’t know what I will get back there.” That’s true. If you give space to that kind of thinking you will never go forward. Just try and you will spare a lot of your energy.
10. Black or white thinking or happy or sad
Aiming for a pure and constant happiness will guarantee you disappointment and suffering. Each place will have its shortcomings. Go for what is the most meaningful to you, despite the painful process it implies. Choose the defects you can afford to make, knowing that no city will ever be perfect. Don’t make decisions out of anxiety and impulsivity. If you need to change something, you will be able to figure it out.