You know that feeling. It’s a longing for a world that once was. An ache in your heart. Try as you might to be happy being home, there’s a very real part of you that misses your life abroad and the country and people that you left behind. And that’s completely okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. Missing your life abroad just shows how much it meant to you and it’s a reminder of the true connections you made. So let yourself feel it and feel it deeply and you just might find that the feeling moves through you . But if it doesn’t and you can’t shake this sense that you’re missing out on something, then it’s time to look into what’s really going on.
What’s really missing?
When you move home after living abroad there’s always a period of adjustment. Once the highs of reuniting with family and friends wear off, it can feel like an enormous let-down. You feel restless and bored and you start to wonder if it’s always going to be like this. You’ve got itchy feet. Life doesn’t quite feel right anymore and you’re already thinking about your next trip away.
Thoughts start swirling around in your head. Did you make the right decision moving home? Should you go back? Should you move elsewhere? Should you grin and bear it? Is this what settling down feels like?
You start reminiscing about the life you left behind. You miss it so much. It was such a great place. If only you could go back. Maybe you can. Maybe you can’t. Is that even what you want? You’re not too sure anymore.
I know how it feels. I used to feel like that. I felt like that when I moved home after living abroad in Canada in 2005. And I felt it all over again in 2010 when I moved home after 4 years living in France.
Recently I moved home again after living abroad in Thailand. And this time things felt different. Did I miss Phuket? Definitely. Did I miss the life I had there? For sure. Did I miss the people I’d met and the friends I’d made? So much it made my heart ache.
But this time I knew how to decode what was missing. And once you know that, you can figure out how to recreate those things in the life you have back home.
When you miss your life abroad it’s easy to think it’s the physical place that you’re missing and that your best bet is to move abroad again. In reality there’s so much more going on and the actual location that you left behind is such a minuscule part of it. What you’re really missing is the way you felt when you were living there, the person you became and the way you lived your life.
As I was sitting at the airport ready to board my flight home, I took out my notebook and began to write. A reflection on everything I’d learnt in Phuket and everything I’d felt along the way. My own little insights into what makes me tick, what drains me, what makes me come alive, what things I need in my day, what things I need to remove, and who I want to spend my time with. And now I get to use these little lessons and reminders to help me create my ideal life back home.
Here are just a few of the (way too many to count) notes I scribbled down:
- Friends and relationships are the most important thing on the planet
- Sunrises and sunsets are nature’s best medicine
- The simpler life is, the better
- Sunshine and water are my ultimate healers
- Bikram yoga rocks my socks
- Never get attached to expectations
- Routine can be a beautiful and comforting thing
- Ocean trumps city every time
- You meet exactly the right people at exactly the right time
- Everyone has a story that deserves to be heard
- Time spent in the ocean is pure joy
- Singing out loud on road trips is pure joy
- My health is so important
- Never underestimate the impact you can have on a person’s life
- Self-love is the key to everything
So if you’ve returned home and you’re missing your life abroad, or if you’re about to move and you’re dreading the impending transition period, here’s a list of questions to help you decode what’s really missing…
- If you had to pick one word to describe your experience abroad, what would that be?
- What 3 words would you use to describe how you were FEELING on a daily basis (most of the time) when you were abroad?
- What were your 3 favourite days abroad and why?
- What aspects of your day did you love?
- What aspects of your day did you dislike?
- On your best days, what type of person were you being?
- What was the purpose behind your time abroad? Why did you move there? Was it meaningful?
- How did you grow and what did you learn from your time abroad?
And when you’ve sat and reflected on the questions above, then you get to play detective and start spotting the patterns that emerge. You’ll start to get more clarity on how you want to feel, the things you love and loathe, the type of person you want to be and what things are meaningful to you. You’ll understand your values and what it is that made your time abroad so fulfilling.
And now it’s up to you to incorporate these things into your life back home. To choose to spend your time doing the things that light you up, being the person you want to be and feeling the way you want to feel. Of course this doesn’t mean you’ll always feel exactly how you want to feel and you’ll never miss anyone or anything ever again (that is not at all the point of this exercise), but when you’re consciously creating your ideal life, the feeling of restlessness and boredom will fade into the distance as you begin to fill your days with the things that bring you joy.
PS – If you’re feeling restless, bored and struggling to make sense of everything now that you’re home, then I’d love to see if I can help you create your ideal life. Check out my life after abroad coaching packages for more details.