I procrastinated writing this blog. Yes, I was busy and yes I told myself that I was justified in my procrastination. The truth is I did not want to write this blog. The end of this blog, in my mind, became a representation of the final closing of my trip. I have already returned to the states, but with this blog left to write there was something left from the experience. I also was afraid. It is difficult to admit to fear because it makes you feel vulnerable, but I was afraid. I was afraid that this last blog would not do justice to my experience. I was afraid that any revelation about my return had the potential to hurt my family, but most of all I was afraid of the unknown. This is a chapter of my life that is closing I am now graduated from college, I have completed my dream trip, but now the question remains what now. Where do I go from here? Some people would be exhilarated about the vastness of options, me I am overwhelmed. That is what made this last blog so hard to write it was my last string holding me to that portion of my life. It is hard to let go. But let go I am because although the unknown is scary I have learned from my travels that opportunities arise in the most surprising of places.
My return home is almost impossible for me to describe. How do you put into words a feeling you cannot even name? I was happy to see my family, I missed them terribly, but that is probably the only emotion that was perfectly clear to me. I arrived home and I felt like I was in a daze. I had imagined/fantasized, call it what you will, about what it would be like to come home. When I was having a bad day I would picture myself back in the states. When I was disoriented or uncomfortable then the image of me in the states would reappear to bring a sense of comfort. It was a fantasy that had risen to heights that would be impossible for any reality to measure up to. When I actually arrived back in the states and met up with my family it felt as if reality had become just another portion of my fantasy. The first day I felt slightly disconnected as if it was merely a dream that would disappear once I woke up. Once I moved passed the initial unreality I began to actually take stock of my surroundings. The town that I was born in and had experienced all stages of childhood into the growth of adulthood had changed. A role reversal had occurred when I was not looking making Ireland familiar and my home had suddenly become foreign when I was not looking. It was not Roseburg that had changed though, it was me.
The untraveled girl that first ventured forth by herself became a young woman that had gotten a taste of the world. A woman that had gone through an inevitable metamorphosis. The inevitability has been discussed in previous blogs about how it is impossible to remain unchanged when experiencing different cultures and stumbling through experiences on your own. The changes are unidentifiable, but undeniable. There is a part deep within myself that has been touched. It is me who had changed and was viewing my birthplace through new eyes. Arriving home and feeling like I had stepped into the foreign made me feel guilty. I felt as if I had somehow betrayed the place I have always called home. It is silly to reflect on now, but emotions are not governed by logic. I had ventured from my bubble to explore the world and when I came back that bubble was no longer there.
In my training they had a term that they referred to as “reverse culture shock”. One of those memories you look back at and scoff at yourself and your naiveté. I was confident in the belief that once I returned home I would feel nothing but relief from being gone so long. The term reverse culture shock seemed absurd and only left me mildly confused as to the meaning. The confusion has been cleared and it is a term I not only understand but identify with. I left for Ireland and experienced disorientation at the differences found there, but soon those differences were no longer differences and somehow morphed into the familiar. When I returned what was once familiar had become different and I experienced a whole new set of disorientation.
This experience opened me up to life, opened me up to the possibilities that lie in wait. Am I still scared of the unknown and the vastness of my options? Yes, but the fear is natural and now I am able to let go. I have faced the unknown time and time again upon my travels and the experiences that came out I would not lose for anything. I can let go. I can open that door to the beginning of a new chapter and overriding the fear is excitement. My life is before me and this is not the end merely the beginning.