One of the respondents to my repatriation survey asked: how do you deal with coming back to your home country where you're feeling internally free, although there's little financial or personal security, after having lived abroad in a safe society with opportunities for personal growth where you felt internally at un-ease?
I can relate in that I love my hometown, and I know exactly what to do, how to behave, and who I have to be. The expectations are clear, family roles are clear, it's comfortable - and incredibly boring. Every time I visit it feels like slipping into a soft pair of pajamas, they fit, they keep me warm, and hold me in a loving embrace. That feeling lasts for about three days, and then I'm longing for a pair of sneakers to go outside and feel the fresh breeze!
Living in a different place, it's like every day has different weather, and that keeps it interesting and exciting. I never know what to wear! That feeling of excitement and stimulation lasts for a long time, and only once in a while I want to catch my breath and feel that stability and loving embrace again. I can do that by flying home for a visit, or calling my family with a video conference, or even eating a favorite childhood meal.
Sticking it out in the new place, over time, the unfamiliar eventually becomes familiar. I get to add a new pair of comfortable pajamas to the collection, and even though they're never going to be like that old pair I love, they are a sign of my personal growth and experiences I'm blessed and proud to have made.
Dear re-patriates: you're taking yourself with you everywhere you go.
I invite you to take a moment to identify what it is that makes you feel safe and secure and at ease and free where you are now. I agree, it's a paradox and perplexing to feel free in a place with high crime and corruption, and trying to understand it without seeing a solution can be very frustrating. Once you know what it is that makes you feel free, maybe you can brainstorm some ways to make those things portable and take them with you to another external environment where you can feel externally safe and secure and happy and fulfilled, too.
Have you re-patriated back "home" after a time abroad? What's it like for you to be back? How do you cope with the feelings of having outgrown it all, or did you slip right back into that pajama?
Image by Elizabeth Rose Sharpe, Flickr, Creative Commons License