Being back home after living abroad

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If you have read my blogpost about Portugal you know by now that I have been living and working in Portugal for one year and three months. Back in October 2018, I felt this huge urge to leave Portugal. By reflecting on why I felt this so strongly, I found out that I just really needed to take a step back and rest, leave the stress I have created there. It was like the Universe was telling me that I needed to take a different route. The ultimate stepping stone for this was that I found out my life’s purpose. By not understanding this feeling at first, it made me feel horrible, panic attacks and a lot of sadness included.

I finally made the decision to quit my job in November 2018 and the plan was to move back to my home country and live with my dad in December 2018. But when it was my last day in Portugal, everything went wrong. I had way too much luggage and got more panic attacks. Since this experience with my luggage and all the stuff I own, I got more interested in minimalism. I gave away some stuff I didn’t need to my flatmates. Eventually, I left some of my bags that I did want to keep with a friend so that I could still fly back that day with most of my winter attire. I can always pick those bags up when I visit Portugal again.

But, when I thought I was still on time for my flight, I was actually really late. The staff at the airport told me it was too late to take my bags in (which had a combined weight of 50 kg!) so I had to take them with me through the whole airport to the gate. I was so stressed, running around with one big suitcase, and two smaller trolley’s, which I couldn’t carry all at once, so I had to bring one to the middle of the pathway and then run back to get the others and so on. This trip to the gate included staircases and broken escalators. The worst about this experience was that it was Christmas Eve, but no one was happy, the staff was grumpy as were the other customers. When I finally made it to the security (which consisted of more grumpy people and weird looks) I was flabbergasted that no one told me whether I was still on time for the flight or not, since this whole trip already took like 30 min.

Afterwards, there was only one hallway and a staircase. All sweaty and tired and with sore muscles I carried the suitcases up, only to find out at the top that the gate was already closed. Together with the stress of this day and the disappointment I burst out in tears and sat on the ground in between all my luggage. Everybody looked at me like I was crazy and no one cared to ask if I was alright. I called my friends and my dad and they calmed me down. Since it was Christmas Eve and there were no other flights to the Netherlands that evening, the best idea was to go back to the loft and book a new flight for another day. When I tried to find the exit of the Airport from the gate, I met a British girl who was actually the only person who helped me that night at the airport. She had a similar experience once and understood me. She was like my angel that night. When we found the exit we wished each other a Merry Christmas and I took a cab back to the loft. The next day it was Christmas so I celebrated it with my flatmates by making a big Thai dinner. Together with my dad, I booked another flight for three days later. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so I probably wasn’t ready to go back home on Christmas Eve, maybe unconsciously, and therefore I had to miss that flight. Though it was a big hassle to still try to be on time for the flight, and it would have been a lot easier if I knew I was late and therefore wouldn’t have to run around with the luggage, but went back to the loft immediately. But this was a new experience and I probably needed to experience it.

When I did finally land in the Netherlands, my friend came to pick me up. It was so strange to back, smell the air and see all the Dutch signs and people. When I entered my room, it felt like I was in somebody else’s room. It did not feel like home. I cried a lot that night and over the next couple of days since my home did not feel like home and I never experienced that weird feeling. When New Year’s Eve came around, I still felt weird and therefore didn’t feel like going out. I spent it at home playing some board games with my dad and watched a Disney movie by myself. It was the first New Year’s Eve that I spent at home for a long time. In January I spent most of the time trying to cope with being back and finding a new job. I eventually found one in catering which I could start in February. The time in between I spent most being by myself, sometimes meeting up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. I spent my birthday at a friend with her little daughter which was really nice quality time with them, but also strange since most of my other birthdays consisted of partying. When my first day at the new job came around, it just felt wrong. This industry was not for me. I tried it for a few more days, but I felt horrible. I just did not belong there. Luckily they understood me, and I was able to quit. Then March came around and I still felt weird about being back in the Netherlands.

Now it’s halfway into March and I feel like a floating ghost imprisoned in my own mind. Overthinking is my biggest demon right now, and I am finding a way to cope with that. I have heard that more people experience this strange feeling when they have travelled or lived abroad and then came back to their hometown. Though, I feel that to me it’s also that I don’t belong in this country. For now, I try to cope with the sadness and feeling of being lost. Allowing myself to feel and not being so harsh on myself. The voices in my head are having an inner battle, some of them think that I shouldn’t feel this way since I have everything I need and should be grateful. This makes me ashamed. I agree in the sense of me having to be grateful because there is always something to be grateful for, but I also think that anyone should be able to feel the way they feel, whatever the circumstances.

Now, I am looking for a new job that does fit with my personality, maybe in customer service again, because then I can put my talents to use and have this feeling of being worthy and helping people. If it doesn’t work out here, I need to find a job abroad again. I have noticed that the need to travel is in my blood and I need to listen to the signs the Universe gives me. Though now that I can look back at everything that I felt, I can see that it was necessary to come back here, but I am not meant to stay. I also feel that somewhere in the near future I need to go back to my roots in Thailand and have a retreat there, to really find myself again, let go of everything that tires me so much here, and visit my little brother and sister, whom I haven’t seen for 6 years or so. For now, I am taking my time to take baby steps in any direction to later find out whether it was the right or wrong direction, because now is the time to make mistakes and fall and get up. I am also healing whatever damage I have created in my mind. Align the mind, body and soul again, to only rise further and thrive.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
— Steve Jobs
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