A Little Contemplation…Readjusting to a Dose of Reality

I’ve been back from my around the world trip for a full month now. More than a month, actually – about six weeks. It’s been an incredibly strange sensation, coming home after all of that time away from all of the people I love – for nearly half of the trip I traveled solo.

I think it would be terribly cliché for me to talk about all of the intensely touchy-feely things that I learned about myself over the past year – I did learn a lot, it would have been hard for me not too!

But beyond those self evident profundities, those “things” I learned, I think I’ve actively processed more about the experience in the past six weeks than I ever did while I was actually out there backpacking.

IMG_1822I went through every emotion possible over the past month and a half, and I kept it all off of the blog in an attempt to deny that I was quite so lost. I’ve talked before about the fact that I’m a crier…I am, I can’t help it, it’s how I process things.

So there was some crying.

But for the first few weeks especially I was just completely lost.

And now though, I pretty much feel like a spaz most days. I’ve gotten right back into the swing of things, visiting friends, seeing concerts (I heart CCR), hanging out with my niece and nephew (I love them to pieces!).

But I realized that there’re some things that are harder to get back right away.

  • How the heck do you feed yourself when you have to plan a week in advance?! I have eaten out at least one of my meals every single day for the past year. And in Asia, EVERY meal was lovingly made for me by someone else. Now though, what is this thing called cooking?! My favorite days are when my friend Niki invites me over for dinner…she calls, I manage to accept with just the right self-control, but really, inside my head I’m secretly cheering “Yea! Crisis averted. Thank the sweet baby Jesus, one meal down.”
  • What do I do with myself while everyone else is at work? I still work via the internet, so all of the “bonding” time I anticipated having with friends only happens outside of traditional work hours Krka National Park Waterfallsince they’re all nine-to-fivers. I know that one of the tips other travelers suggest is “exploring my home-town.” I’m sorry, I’ve lived here for mostly all of my 25 years of life, that’s just not an appealing option.
  • Why are there so many bloody choices? Although I wanted to burn my hideous orange and brown shirt after wearing it for the entire trip as one of my five shirts (and the only one that didn’t fall apart), there’s a simplicity that I miss.  Now, every morning I battle with my closet to make a choice…and some days I stay in my PJs as long as possible just to put it off – how ridiculous is that!

Beyond all of these silly little problems though, I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that a lot of people, even the people who love me, are used to me being gone.

So, what I’m trying to say is, forgive me for the ramblings, I’m just a little adrift…


43 Responses to A Little Contemplation…Readjusting to a Dose of Reality

  1. Anil November 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm #

    I have a pair of shoes I wear that are 8 years old and look pretty beat up. They've traveled everywhere and I can't let them go, no matter how ugly they get. One of the few things that have gone everywhere with me, I guess Andy's right. One of the ways to establish a routine.

    • ShannonOD November 21, 2009 at 11:55 pm #

      Wow, eight years is a really long time for them to hold up! Are they chacos or some sort like that? My chacos are pretty durable…but not many other types of shoes I've owned…

      • Anil November 22, 2009 at 12:54 am #

        They are Diesels that were pretty snazzy at the time but now they look, well…not as snazzy let's say. I just feel bad getting rid of them since we've been so many places together. Besides they get stepped on all the time, I can't abandon them now!

        • ShannonOD November 25, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

          I understand that sentiment, lol – when I studied abroad a few years back I had a pair of leather sandals that I felt that way about – I told my friend to take them from me and dispose of them because I didn't have the heart…I still kind of regret it ;-)

  2. ShannonOD November 21, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    Wow, eight years is a really long time for them to hold up! Are they chacos or some sort like that? My chacos are pretty durable…but not many other types of shoes I've owned…

  3. Anil November 21, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    I have a pair of shoes I wear that are 8 years old and look pretty beat up. They've traveled everywhere and I can't let them go, no matter how ugly they get. One of the few things that have gone everywhere with me, I guess Andy's right. One of the ways to establish a routine.

    • Anil November 21, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

      They are Diesels that were pretty snazzy at the time but now they look, well…not as snazzy let's say. I just feel bad getting rid of them since we've been so many places together. Besides they get stepped on all the time, I can't abandon them now!

  4. lyn November 19, 2009 at 9:14 am #

    exploring your home town can be a good idea, but it makes a difference whether you live in budapest :)))

  5. lyn November 19, 2009 at 9:12 am #

    for some reason, i really loved this post:)

  6. ShannonOD November 18, 2009 at 9:20 pm #

    Wow, that must have been a really intense adjustment time after two years on the road…I can only imagine how overwhelming it must have been to be home after becoming so accustomed to your nomadic cruise shipping…my family have had to put up with a few tears for my readjustment time!

    As for more travel..you can be sure of that! In fact, I doubt I'll be able to wait much longer than a couple of months!

  7. ShannonOD November 18, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    Thanks Andy :-) I appreciate the support…I can't say I much like this recalibration period…it kinda sucks! But it really has just been a process of letting go of my “on the road” routine and being okay with the fact that I was letting it go…for now ;-)

    (Oh, and thankfully socks were easy to handwash and cheap to replace, so I wasn't too horribly attached to those!)

    • ShannonOD November 25, 2009 at 9:57 am #

      I understand that sentiment, lol – when I studied abroad a few years back I had a pair of leather sandals that I felt that way about – I told my friend to take them from me and dispose of them because I didn't have the heart…I still kind of regret it ;-)

  8. ShannonOD November 18, 2009 at 9:13 pm #

    Thanks for the comment, I've found it just takes a bit of patience on my part, I really wanted it to go back to normal without much effort – not the case! :-)

  9. ann November 18, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    yes, i can definitely relate, even though i've only traveled for weeks at a time, but i certainly do feel out of place when i get back.

    • ShannonOD November 19, 2009 at 4:13 am #

      Thanks for the comment, I've found it just takes a bit of patience on my part, I really wanted it to go back to normal without much effort – not the case! :-)

  10. Ann November 18, 2009 at 4:09 am #

    yes, i can definitely relate, even though i've only traveled for weeks at a time, but i certainly do feel out of place when i get back.

  11. Nomadic Fanatic November 17, 2009 at 4:18 am #

    I understand this feeling..I used to work on small cruise ships and after I returned after being gone 2 years, I went a bit nuts. Emotionally, it was just a huge adjustment to come home. I feel for you, but imagine you will be off on another adventure soon. It gets addictive!

    • ShannonOD November 19, 2009 at 4:20 am #

      Wow, that must have been a really intense adjustment time after two years on the road…I can only imagine how overwhelming it must have been to be home after becoming so accustomed to your nomadic cruise shipping…my family have had to put up with a few tears for my readjustment time!

      As for more travel..you can be sure of that! In fact, I doubt I'll be able to wait much longer than a couple of months!

  12. Nomadic Fanatic November 16, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    I understand this feeling..I used to work on small cruise ships and after I returned after being gone 2 years, I went a bit nuts. Emotionally, it was just a huge adjustment to come home. I feel for you, but imagine you will be off on another adventure soon. It gets addictive!

  13. andrewghayes November 16, 2009 at 7:29 pm #

    It's interesting how when you're always on the go, you pine for the things you had when you were home. Then when you're home, you pine for the things you had when you were on the road.

    Our bodies/brains just aren't geared for change, but we try to grind them down into a routine. Your routine (the same pair of shirts, apparently – we won't ask about socks and pants!) got you into the habit of being always adrift, and now that you're floating closer to shore, its time to recalibrate that internal compass.

    Thanks for opening up and sharing how you're feeling. I can't bring you a meal but always here to listen!

    • ShannonOD November 19, 2009 at 4:18 am #

      Thanks Andy :-) I appreciate the support…I can't say I much like this recalibration period…it kinda sucks! But it really has just been a process of letting go of my “on the road” routine and being okay with the fact that I was letting it go…for now ;-)

      (Oh, and thankfully socks were easy to handwash and cheap to replace, so I wasn't too horribly attached to those!)

  14. andrewghayes November 16, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    It's interesting how when you're always on the go, you pine for the things you had when you were home. Then when you're home, you pine for the things you had when you were on the road.

    Our bodies/brains just aren't geared for change, but we try to grind them down into a routine. Your routine (the same pair of shirts, apparently – we won't ask about socks and pants!) got you into the habit of being always adrift, and now that you're floating closer to shore, its time to recalibrate that internal compass.

    Thanks for opening up and sharing how you're feeling. I can't bring you a meal but always here to listen!

  15. ShannonOD November 16, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    I believe it Cassie! The sheer amount of selection and commercialism in the US just doesn't really exist in most other places – the bombardment of adverts and the such has gotten me a bit – I find myself offended sometimes by how much we are “sold-to” on the radio and TV…and that's saying a lot for me since I was an advertising major in college! :-)

  16. ShannonOD November 16, 2009 at 7:20 am #

    Good plan Emma, lol, once I get some finances in line I am out the door! I think that's the conclusion I found too, just stay on the road exploring – huge props to you though for 15 years traveling, that's really amazing that you've managed to continue traveling through life and kids and the such; gives me hope :-)

  17. ShannonOD November 16, 2009 at 7:17 am #

    That's precisely it Stephanie, I remember driving across the one bridge from the airport that leads to my side of town the day I returned, and I had this weird disorienting sense of never having left in the first place! I'm starting to get with you on the closet – or at least the shoes :-) those are my weakness, lol

  18. Stephanie November 16, 2009 at 4:01 am #

    For me the strangest thing about coming back from traveling is how little everything changes. There I am feeling like a completely different person with so many experiences and stories behind me, and there is my house, family and friends, pretty much exactly as I left them. It's really disorienting.

    But I do love having my closet back!

    • Shannon O'Donnell November 16, 2009 at 10:17 am #

      That’s precisely it Stephanie, I remember driving across the one bridge from the airport that leads to my side of town the day I returned, and I had this weird disorienting sense of never having left in the first place! I’m starting to get with you on the closet – or at least the shoes :-) those are my weakness, lol

    • ShannonOD November 16, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

      That's precisely it Stephanie, I remember driving across the one bridge from the airport that leads to my side of town the day I returned, and I had this weird disorienting sense of never having left in the first place! I'm starting to get with you on the closet – or at least the shoes :-) those are my weakness, lol

  19. EmmaOconnor November 15, 2009 at 10:29 pm #

    I just haven't really stopped!! Five years is the longest i've spent in one place (even then I had more than one house) since I set off 15 years ago (I can't believe it either).
    It's really hard to settle back into 'normal life, and the realization that people have gotten on with their lives while you were gone. (I dunno, maybe I thought they would just spend the whole time waiting…. ) It can be really emotional. You said it though, they're used to you being gone….. so start planning your next trip ;)

    • ShannonOD November 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

      Good plan Emma, lol, once I get some finances in line I am out the door! I think that's the conclusion I found too, just stay on the road exploring – huge props to you though for 15 years traveling, that's really amazing that you've managed to continue traveling through life and kids and the such; gives me hope :-)

  20. cassie November 15, 2009 at 4:31 pm #

    About the choices: I have a friend who does missionary work. She was in Russia for 3 years and when she came back she was went to the grocery store to get a few things but had to leave. It was too overwhelming for her.

    • ShannonOD November 16, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

      I believe it Cassie! The sheer amount of selection and commercialism in the US just doesn't really exist in most other places – the bombardment of adverts and the such has gotten me a bit – I find myself offended sometimes by how much we are “sold-to” on the radio and TV…and that's saying a lot for me since I was an advertising major in college! :-)

  21. cassie November 15, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    About the choices: I have a friend who does missionary work. She was in Russia for 3 years and when she came back she was went to the grocery store to get a few things but had to leave. It was too overwhelming for her.

    • EmmaOconnor November 15, 2009 at 3:29 pm #

      I just haven't really stopped!! Five years is the longest i've spent in one place (even then I had more than one house) since I set off 15 years ago (I can't believe it either).
      It's really hard to settle back into 'normal life, and the realization that people have gotten on with their lives while you were gone. (I dunno, maybe I thought they would just spend the whole time waiting…. ) It can be really emotional. You said it though, they're used to you being gone….. so start planning your next trip ;)

  22. tadpole42 November 14, 2009 at 3:34 pm #

    CCR was great! (and the pic isn't as bad as I had feared!) You can come to my house WHENEVER and I'll cook you (ie order out) dinner anytime you want! I understand the feeling of “lost” too. It's been 10 years since I came back to the states after a year away, and there are still days that I miss it…

    • ShannonOD November 16, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

      Thank you Sprout, I appreciate that offer, and I just may take you up on it; you still haven't called to brainstorm so I just might have to hunt you down for dinner and a chat :-)

  23. tadpole42 November 14, 2009 at 8:34 am #

    CCR was great! (and the pic isn't as bad as I had feared!) You can come to my house WHENEVER and I'll cook you (ie order out) dinner anytime you want! I understand the feeling of “lost” too. It's been 10 years since I came back to the states after a year away, and there are still days that I miss it…

  24. Amy @ The Q Family November 13, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    Even though I didn't travel around the world but moving here from Thailand, I had the same experience as you regarding food. People expect me to cook Thai food for them when they met me. Little did they know that we don't actually cook when we live in Thailand. Why cook when food is so readily available and so affordable? I still miss it even after 10 years here. :)

    • ShannonOD November 16, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

      Wow – I think I would have been one of those same people asking for some “good ole home cooked food!” But I definitely understand where you're coming from, the Thai food was incredibly tasty and there were just tons of cheap options :-) Are you heading back there any time soon?

  25. Amy @ The Q Family November 13, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    Even though I didn't travel around the world but moving here from Thailand, I had the same experience as you regarding food. People expect me to cook Thai food for them when they met me. Little did they know that we don't actually cook when we live in Thailand. Why cook when food is so readily available and so affordable? I still miss it even after 10 years here. :)

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