I’m going to admit it. I have attempted to write this blog at least 167 times! Ok – that may be an exaggeration, but honestly, this has been the hardest piece to write yet. Every single time I tried, I ended up staring blankly at my screen. Sometimes I managed to get out a few sentences, only to delete them shortly after. Most attempts left me in tears. Yep, that’s right – tears! So, I often found myself walking away with the hope that next time the words would come. Except that they didn’t. Instead, I would once again sit staring, blinking away more tears. Why on earth was this so hard to write?! Thankfully, many months later, I’ve finally managed to get some words together. So, here we go, attempt number 167…
It’s been a year. One whole year since I returned from the UK and, as the anniversary of my coming home drew nearer, I felt inspired to write about my transition home. You see, prior to leaving the UK I was told by so many about the challenges of settling back in. How hard it is to come back to “real life” and how most suffer depression. Ergh! How awful is that?! So, naturally, I was left feeling terrified over the thought of coming home and my expectations were set low. Real low. But, after arriving home, I realised that it’s no so bad after all! I had come home to the excitement of summer and spent quality time with friends and family. I was motivated to focus on my career and was having a ball being a tourist in my own city. Things were going well! I really felt like I had won, like I had defeated the inevitable post-London blues. So I thought I would write about it. Tell my friends that it’s not all the doom and gloom that we expected and that for those who were yet to come home, there was no need to worry! But, as I attempted to put words to paper, I quickly became aware that perhaps things weren’t as cheery as they seemed on the outside. Emotions started to flood. Emotions that I feared had been bubbling under the surface, forever being pushed away and ignored. And now, as I stopped and allowed myself to think and feel, I suddenly became aware. Those post-London blues had got me bad.
It’s not so much the travel that I miss. Or even London itself. It’s the person that I was that I miss the most. I had this confidence about me. The kind you get when you’re in a foreign country where no one knows you. It’s almost like you’re in this fake world, where nothing matters and you’re willing to give anything a go. It’s as if your “real life” is back home, on hold, and you can do anything you like in the meantime. You don’t get bogged down on the little things and so you become more resilient than you’ve ever been. I was carefree and spontaneous! Man – I even had trouble getting to sleep purely because I was so excited about what tomorrow’s adventures would hold. I was the happiest I had ever been. The only fear I had was that when I came home I would lose it all. I was worried that I would return and get stuck in my old ways, falling back into boring routines and becoming a slave to my perfectionism. So I promised myself that when I returned, I would continue to live this life.
I tried. I promise, I really did. But something just wasn’t right and I couldn’t put my finger on it. It wasn’t until I got caught up in conversation with someone older and wiser than me that it finally began to make sense. He explained:
“It’s challenging! I know, and no one else gets it. The hardest part is that no one prepares you for this. For how you’ll feel months after the move. You expect that the first few months will be tough, but no one prepares you for the ongoing struggles. You see, the issue isn’t that home has changed. It’s not that your friends or family have changed. It’s that you have. You! And not in a bad way, but in an incredible way! A way that makes you question where you fit in in your previous life.”
That was it! Living overseas had completely changed who I was. I had finally become a person that I was totally in love with. But, as I tried to slot back into my old life, I found that this new version of me didn’t quite fit. I was like a triangle block trying to squeeze inside a square hole. So, in an attempt to fit back in, I started to revert to the person I used to be. The ‘Pre-London Lisa’. It left me feeling completely confused and frustrated about who I was, what I was doing and where I was going.
Reflecting on these emotions has been incredibly challenging and this post has taken me months to write. But, letting myself feel and wrestle with these thoughts has finally started to give me clarity. I’ve realised that I need to stop trying to slot back into my old life. Instead, I’m going to treat Melbourne like I did London. Because after all, it’s not so much about the place, but the perspective and outlook you have on living in said place.
So, even though this post is personal, I still wanted to share it with you all. First of all to encourage you to speak to others if you’re feeling lost and confused about who you are. Write things down and have a conversation with yourself. Although this blog almost killed me to write, it allowed me to think, discover and realise what was truly going on inside.
And the second reason I decided to post this to you was to make a public promise to myself. To not allow myself to creep back into my old habits, but instead to stay true to the person I fell in love with. This means that I’m going to surround myself with positive and like-minded people. I’m going to avoid the obsession of perfectionism and routines. I’m banning myself from the never ending to-do lists of life and instead, I’m just gonna live a little! I’m going back to being spontaneous. I’m gonna plan adventures with new and old friends! And stop getting bogged down on the little things in life that truly don’t matter. There is so much more to the bigger picture of life; for me, that’s to live at my happiest and healthiest, surrounded by those that I love the most. I hope this post encourages you to do the same.