The Stages Of Returning Home
The Summer’s over, many of you are returning home after a long, fruitful spell in Europe. The journey is a bittersweet one, bitter in that all the good times and random pleasures of a European summer are over, sweet because all the good times and random pleasures have given you bottomless bragging fodder to unfurl on your friends at home.
But what will your glorious return actually be like? Well unfortunately it’s not all beer, skittles, rainbows and handjobs. Returning to the known world after running wild with the savages is a tough job, and the stages of returning home very closely mimic the stages of grief. It’s a sad process, but one you’ll get through soon enough if you follow this step-by-step guide.
Stage One: Denial
When the traveller returns home denial often manifests itself as delusion. You will be in denial about what life awaits you when you return, you’ll mentally give yourself a plethora of dream jobs that will be offered to you at home, jobs that will be pleasurable extensions of your time travelling. You imagine well-paid days in the sun, being paid to eat and drink and meet new people and lay with exotic strangers. Going home won’t be too bad, you tell yourself, I’ll probably just pick up work as a gigolo, or a socialite, or a surf instructor, or a tour guide, or a tv star, or something that is a far cry from the part-time gig you’ll pick up serving tepid pints to toothless ashtrays at a dive pub on the soggy side of the tracks. Seems the glaring, vino-soaked hole in your CV isn’t exactly what employers were looking for.
Stage Two: Anger
At everyone. At your family for being so dang annoying. At your friends for not caring about your travelling stories. At people still travelling for posting Instagrams that are giving you FOMO (FOMO giving should be your job!). At your new job for paying so little, while being so boring and allowing so little time for fun. At home life for being a limp imitation of your European lifestyle. At the restaurants for charging half a week’s wage for glorified gruel. At bars and nightclubs for not letting you in/get drunk/have fun/dance like nobody’s watching. At your plans for not working out. At yourself for ever leaving. At the world for being so unkind.
Stage Three: Bargaining
“Ok, look, here’s the thing. I’ll knuckle down and work hard. I’ll stop complaining and I’ll be happy for what I’ve got. I’ll stop spending all my money on partying. I’ll start living the life my friends live, the life my parents want me to live. I’ll save up some money and I’ll put a deposit on a house. I’ll go on dates and I’ll meet someone who takes life seriously. I’ll learn from them and complement them. We can move in together, get engaged, get married and have kids. I’ll do all of these things and conform to life at home, if it will make me happy. It’s what everybody else is doing and they seem happy, so surely it will work for me.”
Stage Four: Depression
None of those things make you any happier, not once you’ve had a taste of the good life. Working hard and saving money just makes you sad if you can’t party and travel. Dating people who ask you about your five-year plan is about as miserable as it gets and will probably lead to a lifetime of monthly missionary sex. All the houses in the places you want to live are oppressively expensive, and everything in your price range is pathetic and in the middle of nowhere. You can’t lock into the next 20 years paying off a shitty house in a crappy place eking out a worthless existence. You’re a wild horse and you need to run free; all this attempt at taming just makes you bummed out. There’s only one thing for it…
Stage Five: Acceptance
You’re home now and you know what you want. The nine-to-five isn’t interesting to you yet and you aren’t really sure who you are, let alone what you want to do. Alls you know is that travelling makes you happy. So you accept that, and you do whatever it takes to get you travelling again. You realise that your job is your means to again frolicking on foreign shores. You see each and every shift as being equal to this much time in Italy, that much wine in Spain. This realisation sees you attack each working day with a renewed vigor. You stop telling your friends stories about your adventures and start trying to include them in future ones. Your family might not appear happy with your decision to take more time off from the real world, but that’s just how they have to be. Deep down they wish they were the ones planning to take off again, living for nothing but fun. The restrictive and mundane nature of socialising at home suddenly becomes a blessing. You don’t want to go out and party, because the parties are lame compared to what you’ll be doing next summer in Europe. You’re saving money and gaining health, two things that you’ll need to have reserves of when you take on another backpacking mission. You’ve accepted that going home is an integral part of travelling, and that it by no means has to be permanent. You’ve accepted that once the bug bites, you’re hooked. You’ve accepted that as soon as possible, you’ll be back.
Are you ready for your next European summer mission? Then check out our passport, for the best way to stretch your travelling buck, our backpackers’ guide, for advice on every stage of the journey, or if you want to work to play and maybe never leave, maybe one of our writing internships is up your alley. Here’s to a life on the road!