3 Things That Hold You Back from a Happier Re-entry

Cate Brubaker's picture

You’re (going) home after an amazing experience abroad. You probably feeling sad, conflicted, and maybe even a little lost.

I’ll let you in on a little secret…there are ways to make re-entry a happier experience.

It's true! Just today, one of my tribe members told me that they now feel "more positive and excited about the whole re-entry process!” I love hearing that! 

3 Things That Hold You Back from a Happier Re-entry

But...sometimes we make things harder than they need to be.

3 Ways You Hold Yourself Back from a Happier Re-entry

#1 - Worrying that re-entry is the end.

When you’re on the plane heading “home,” it’s easy to worry that your amazing global life is over. To feel a loss of identity. To assume that the adventure has come to an end and that it’s all downhill from here (until you can go abroad again, that is).

In reality, it’s just your current abroad experience that is coming to an end, not your entire adventure-filled global life!

Consider this...when you’re on a road trip, you make use of rest areas, right? When you stop, do you worry that your trip has come to an end? That if you stop, you might not get back on the road?

Of course not!

You use the bathroom, get some coffee, fill up the gas tank, and rest your eyes for a few minutes. Even though you’re not moving forward at that exact moment, you’re doing things that will keep you moving forward. You don’t worry that your road trip is over or that you’ll get stuck at that rest area. You just rest, refuel, and then keep going!

What if you were to look at re-entry as simply a "pit-stop" on your life-long global journey? What if you were to look at re-entry as an opportunity to "pull over" and...

    •    Rest and refuel.
    •    Get to know who you are now.
    •    Create a global life you love, no matter where in the world you are.
    •    Move towards your next global adventure, at home or abroad, with intention and confidence.

Re-entry as a "rest and refuel pit stop" on your life-long global journey doesn't sound so bad, does it?

#2 - Thinking re-entry = reverse culture shock

If we get any re-entry help, it’s typically with the logistics of going home, travel, finding a place to live, and maybe a resume workshop or a discussion about reverse culture shock.

That type of support can be super helpful...but here's the problem: we’re often left to process our deep grief, conflicting feelings, difficulties with relationships, and many other issues on our own.

If you think of re-entry as an iceberg (see image below), what we often talk about and get help with are the visible "above the water line" things (logistics, etc). The problem is that there are all of these invisible "below the water line" things that aren't visible when we first return home - things like identity, feelings, restlessness, and personal issues.

Re-entry is not reverse culture shock! From 3 Things That Hold You Back from a Happier Re-entry

The problem is that different things surface at different times for different people. And very often they surface after you’ve been back a while, which means you're left to muddle through alone. And...because we don't often talk about these "below the water line" things, it's often difficult to connect the dots back to reentry, which makes them difficult to resolve.

#3 - Not taking time to deeply reflect on who you are now.

The third thing that you could be doing to hold yourself back from a happier re-entry is not taking enough time for deep reflection. There are many reasons for this, such as feeling too busy, not knowing what questions to ask, not wanting to go it alone, feeling overwhelmed by feelings that you can't quite articulate, etc.

The thing is, you can't find your best next global adventure and create a global life you love with intention and confidence if you don't know 1) who you are now, 2) how being abroad has shaped you, 3) what's most important to you now, and 4) what you want your life to be like going forward. Taking time for deep reflection is one of the best gifts you can give yourself in re-entry.

In summary, 3 things that hold you back from a happier re-entry are:

#1 - Worrying that re-entry is the end.
#2 - Thinking re-entry = reverse culture shock.
#3 - Not taking time to deeply reflect on who you are now.

Are you ready to take charge of your re-entry and make it a happier experience? Great! Here are 3 ways to get started:

1. Join other globetrotters the Re-entry Relaunchers Unite Facebook group

2. Download 3 activities that will help you deeply reflect on your experiences abroad

3. Join a support group! 

Remember, you're not alone, and it IS possible to have a happier re-entry! 



Cate Brubaker, PhD is the author of the Re-Entry Relaunch Roadmap creative workbook, founder of Small Planet Studio, and leads Re-entry Relaunch Mastermind groups that help globetrotters find happiness and create a thriving global life at home and abroad.