It started a few months ago, although I don’t remember exactly when. It may have been while I was strolling through the streets of Tashkent or it might have happened as I tried to fall asleep on the brutally hot train through western Kazakhstan. By the time I reached Riga in mid-September, the refrain echoed in my head regularly.
I want my life back.
It continued the last couple weeks while I was in Chicago and it was still repeating itself as I sat in my parents’ home in Minnesota. Don’t get me wrong – this is not a case of reverse culture shock. As I wrote a couple weeks ago, nothing about immersing myself in American culture again has felt shocking to me.
I just want my life back.
It may seem odd. In fact, I know it will seem odd to those who have sold everything, quit their jobs and hit the road – perhaps at first as a career break, but later as a permanent way of life. It is amazing to think of how many of you I know now – when I first got my crazy idea to travel for a year I didn’t know any of you. Now, after meeting so many travel bloggers who are location-independent, digital nomads, I feel like I’m the odd one out who doesn’t want to lead that kind of life.
It’s not for me. Really, I’m not sure long-term travel was ever for me, but there was no way to know that until I tried. And oddly enough, I almost feel like I have to apologize for the fact that I didn’t love it. Like there is something wrong with me that ditching all of my possessions and quitting my job and spending a year overseas didn’t give me an enormous sense of freedom and infinite feeling of joy.
No, instead it left me longing for my old way of life. The life I had before I started to track every dime I spent. The life in which I took tennis lessons, played in volleyball leagues and enjoyed happy hour every Friday. The life in which I sometimes checked out cool, new restaurants or went to black-tie fundraisers. The life in which I could go shopping on a Saturday afternoon and not stress over how much that really cute sweater or purse cost.
I feel like my life is stuck on pause.
I returned to the United States on September 25 but I do not feel like I’m truly home yet. I just don’t feel settled because, well, I’m not settled. Sure, I unpacked all of my clothes at my parents’ house in Minnesota and spent some time sifting through some of the boxes there, trying to get re-organized. But then I headed back to Chicago where I was living out of a suitcase and staying with friends as I networked my butt off and enjoyed multiple job interviews (more on that in another post). And then I returned to Minnesota for a long weekend. And then I flew back to Chicago. It’s been exhausting.
I haven’t had any down time. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of coffee meetings, lunches, networking happy hours and catching up with friends. I have barely had time to keep up with some of the freelance work on my plate and have found even less time to devote to this blog. I long for an entire weekend (or week!) to spend all by myself to just write and write and write, but I know I won’t get it anytime soon – not while I’m living out of a suitcase with family or friends. There are just too many distractions.
But this whirlwind has been necessary so I can find a full-time job again. That is priority number one. As soon as that happens, I can hit “play” and move forward.
I long to feel settled again.
I want to completely unpack and then go shopping for a new wardrobe.
I want to do a spa day and get a haircut and pedicure and facial.
I want to move back into my condo and fill it with new furniture (which won’t happen anytime soon since it’s under lease through next August).
I want to go grocery shopping and fill a whole refrigerator with all of my favorite foods and start making all of my favorite meals.
I want to play in a volleyball league again and rejoin my old tennis club.
I want to start training for another half-marathon or marathon even though I am barely up to running 5 miles again.
I want to meet new guys and go on dates. And maybe even get into a new relationship.
I want to go out with friends and have something to talk about besides my job search.
Speaking of which, I want a job. I want a regular paycheck and good health insurance and a 401(k) again.
I want to start volunteering regularly and I want to learn French.
I want to write an e-book.
I want to get another cat.
More than anything, I just really want to develop a new routine and enjoy a sense of stability.
So I’m sorry if this sounds a little whiny or like I’m complaining too much. I always swore I’d be honest and open about everything related to my career break and travels. Besides, I haven’t vented in about 3 months, so I think I’m due (if you look back, you’ll see I had a minor breakdown/whiny/venting post about every 3 months on the road). And just by writing this, I already feel a little better.
And I’ll feel even better once I get my life back.