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How do you handle all the different emotions and reactions you’re having from being back home again? Especially when talking to your loved ones is hard because they really cannot relate to what you’re feeling?
Coming home is weird, isn’t it? By the end of your trip, all you can think about is how good it will feel to sleep in your own bed again, how great it will be to hang out with your friends, how incredible that cheeseburger will taste. But then, when you do get home, reality sinks in. Being so comfortable actually feels uncomfortable now. You find yourself frustrated at the apathy around you. Friends just don’t understand what you’ve experienced.
So what do you do? Well, I’d suggest three simple things.
First, have plenty of grace with your friends and family. You just spent time walking through slums, climbing mountains and building life-changing international friendships. In that same time, they saw the new Brad Pitt movie and ate some really great ice cream. You can’t expect their lives to have changed as much as yours!
Second, find a couple of people you really trust to whom you can pour out your emotions and experiences. Save your newfound grief over American materialism for them. If you have a safe place to process what you’ve experienced, you can spare your other friends the tears and tirades.
Finally, and this is the tough one, get used to being an “other.” The fact is, now that you’ve seen what you’ve seen, your life is going to be different. You won’t fit in the way you used to. People won’t understand your new worldview. Turn the frustration of this loneliness into action. Don’t tell your friends what you learned about following Christ on your trip. Show them. Even if you do seem a bit weird…
How do you balance trying to keep yourself safe verses placing yourself in risky situations?
Great question. Funny you should ask because I am the type of traveler who sometimes gets lost on purpose just to seek out adventure. I am also the guy who often times doesn’t tell his parents about what he did until after he’s home safe and sound.
After years of traveling, I’ve learned some things about being safe. One of the most important things is to talk to the locals about the community. Find out what areas are more dangerous than others and learn the “rules” for tourists in those areas.
Use common sense. Don’t go out after dark, carry very little money and material things and try to blend in as much as possible.
Always be looking around and know the environment. Have an “out plan” in case a situation arises and anticipate situations by listening to your gut. If you don’t feel settled or comfortable, don’t question yourself. Just get out!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, think about the people close to you and the organization you are representing. Your actions not only affect you individually but they affect many others in your life and getting harmed or in trouble could cause unnecessary stress.