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On going home

going home nostalgia

As I am writing this, it’s five days til Christmas, and I am sitting on my childhood twin bed in my parent’s house in little old Winchester, Virginia. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

I don’t come home to the US as often as I like, but when I do I am always overcome with FEELINGS. Emotions. Guilt. Nostalgia. I both love and hate this in equal measure. I feel all the things, good, bad and the ugly.

Nothing puts things quite into perspective like returning home as if nothing is changed a decade after you first left for college. It’s like I slip right back into the role of being petulant 18 year old again. If only I could fit in my jeans from when I was 18. Sigh.

going home nostalgia

My life in New Zealand vacillates between being hectic as all hell and so mellow time almost stands still at my home in Wanaka. There often is no middle ground. Either way it’s all-consuming for me, and eats up my days in endless strings of high adventure, emails, flights, photographs and writing, writing and some more writing, for good measure. There is no time for dwelling on the past.

Years went by in the blink of an eye. How is 2016 almost over? In my head it’s still July. Didn’t I just start blogging? Oh wait, that was six years ago. Fuck me.

I wake up every day and don’t remember where I am, and no, not because I’ve woken up in someone else’s bed (you animals), but rather I spend so much time traveling I don’t often wake up lucid enough to remember which city in which country this hotel room is in.

There is so much work left to do! So many things I meant to accomplish. I’m not ready for the year to be over.

going home nostalgia

But I digress.

When I am at home, I am almost painfully reminded of all my ups and downs over the years, of my successes and total failures. This twin bed has been my bed since before I was a teenager. This house has been my family house since I was 14. Winchester, of all the fucking places, has been my constancy in a life where I never sit still. It’s the one thing that hasn’t changed. It’s the center for all my memories which when I come back, tend to consume me.

Not to mention I just go batshit crazy when I’m here. I love it. I hate it. It’s painful but good for me. I suppose it isn’t healthy to run away from the past or our emotions, right?

going home nostalgia

When I am here I think about all the things that could have been. What if I had done this instead of that? What if I went down this path instead of that one or made that decision instead of this one.

What if I went to UVA instead of Mt. Holyoke for university? What if I had given up on living abroad and moved in with my ex in NYC? What if I had gone back to Spain instead of moving to New Zealand? And the worst, what would my life be like now if I had never started blogging? Shivers.

Would I be happier? Where would my life be now? There are so many paths that are open to us in life, how are we ever sure we took the right one. And why am I even thinking about this? Is there even any point to it all? If I was truly happy now would I even be considering the past like this?

Maybe we just want what we can’t have?

I am one of those people that lives in their heads. And I’m the kind of person that gets extremely nostalgic (like, to an unhealthy level) so I try and focus on the future instead of the past. Otherwise I get moody, depressed and emotional, none of which are all that pretty.

But when I am at home in Virginia, I am forced to confront all those thoughts I can easily avoid in New Zealand. How do I cope?

going home nostalgia

I suppose as we grow older we need to learn to accept the past, accept that it is what it is and we can’t change it, the only choice we have is to acknowledge it and move forward.

Fifteen years ago I was expelled from school for doing drugs. Four years after that I graduated with honors and headed off to New England for college to start fresh, a total nerd. Seven years ago I put off graduate school (in medieval history no less!) and started a travel blog and decided to move to Spain to teach English. Almost four years ago I went pro, and I quit my job and this blog has been my full time job since.

Even though I love my life right now, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns and when I am home I can’t help but think what it might have been. Would I be happier if my situation were different? I miss the comforts of America sometimes (like Target and cheap but tasty tacos) and I often miss the research and writing around history. Even studying. And sometimes I think by choosing the path that I did means I am going to be alone forever. Dismal.

The decisions we make, good or bad, shape who we are today, right? We just have to learn to live with them I guess.

going home nostalgia

So what’s the point with all my blathering about the past? Fuck if I know. I just wanted to share what thoughts have been tumbling through my head this past week in the hopes that maybe even just one of you might relate to it. Surely I can’t be the only one who gets emotional and nostalgic when they go home for the holidays.

And maybe I just need to get rid of my old twin bed and find myself a boyfriend. Accept this is my reality and handle it.  And start planning 2017.

What about you guys? Do you get nostalgic when you go back home? How do you deal? Spill!

going home nostalgia

82 Responses to On going home

  1. Alex, Denglish Speaker December 21, 2016 at 8:28 am #

    I know so many of these feelings. You can’t help but wonder. And even though it is home, it is all so different but exactly the same. Nevertheless, being home for the holidays is always some sort of relief, at least for me, because that is the one time of year it will always feel right to me to be at home. Enjoy it, the crazy, emotional rollercoaster and all!

    • Liz December 21, 2016 at 11:59 am #

      that’s a good way to look at it!

    • Liz December 30, 2016 at 7:05 am #

      My girls feel the same when they come home to their old rooms whether at Christmas or the 4th of July (which in the lakes country of Minnesota is just a about as important of holiday). As a mama who is now starting to travel solo and blog, thanks to you and your virtual encouragement, it is funny to me how they want to be adventurous and free yet are forever reminding me that I can never sell this house or change their rooms. Funny how life is.

      Ps. Do you know of any seminars in the USA similar to the ones that you offer on becoming a travel blogger?? This mid-life mama needs a community and guidance!!

  2. Molly December 21, 2016 at 8:33 am #

    It’s never too late to change paths. Your path looks pretty awesome, but if you stop wanting it, just change. You can always go back to it…even though it is a pain in the ass to change back and forth multiple times. Right now, I teach English in Spain. Next year, I want to teach in Korea. After that, I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I probably won’t teach English anymore. I used to work in purchasing, and it was pretty lame, so I doubt I’ll be going back to that. Some people are just restless and bound to change their lives/careers up a bunch of times. I also do feel lonely. Dating abroad is really hard because most guys see you as a temporary fix, even if they deny it. It sucks! PS: I find your blog really inspirational and helpful! It helped a lot with my move to Spain last year. – Molly

    • Liz December 21, 2016 at 11:59 am #

      thanks!!

  3. Marissa December 21, 2016 at 8:59 am #

    I really appreciate your honesty here. I haven’t lived outside of the U.S. besides a semester abroad, but I still have similar feelings when I visit the places where I grew up (I’ve moved a bunch). It’s amazing how each decision we make can set us on a completely new course in life – from where we go to college to which jobs we take to which apartments we rent. I guess the most important thing is feeling confident in the choices you have made, and if at some point you do get restless or desire something different, to not be afraid to explore it completely and honestly. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever stop grappling with all of this! Side note: Winchester is totally on my short list of day trips from D.C.! If you find yourself in/around D.C. while you’re home and have any desire to tackle these topics with a fellow blogger, let’s grab a coffee!

    • Liz December 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

      Oh cool! I’ll definitely be in DC on the 26th!

  4. Leah December 21, 2016 at 9:02 am #

    Oh hey, I recognize one of these photos 😉 Holy moly–hard to believe it’s almost 10 years since we were back making bad decisions in Salamanca! It’s so fun to read about your adventures–and rest assured we all face those demons from our past decisions, whether they took place 1 mile away or 1,000 miles away. I think it’s good to be reminded of how far we’ve come. You wouldn’t be where you are today if you hadn’t followed every twist and turn along the way–and you’ve done amazing things!! I can’t tell you how often I brag about you!! Also we MAY be planning a New Zealand honeymoon… will email you as soon as we know the deets. SO proud of you, Liz!!!

    • Liz December 21, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

      Love that! I can’t believe it’s been 10 years either holy crap! let’s please have a reunion soon!

  5. Taís December 21, 2016 at 9:24 am #

    I totally relate to it, Liz!
    I have been living in Ireland for nearly 3 years and a half now, and last summer, was the first time I went back home (in Brazil). I spent 3 years abroad, far from my home country, family and friends.. and the feeling to be back home after so many years living in a different country and travelling to so many places, it is something I can’t really describe. A mix of good, bad, nostalgia, and all these ‘what if” questions. It was painful. And a feeling that I never felt before, as it was my first time home. All so crazy, right? I think only if you have been through something like that you can understand these so many FEELINGS! Yet so good to feel!
    🙂

    • Liz December 21, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

      Phew glad it isn’t just me!

  6. Laura December 21, 2016 at 9:37 am #

    I couldn’t agree with you more on this. I haven’t lived in my “hometown” in nearly 7 years and I go back less and less every year to visit due to those same feelings. I feel more at home on the road than I ever did in my parents house. I’ve gotten used to coming and going often & the people in my life, although they might be few because of it, get that as well. They support me and I’m grateful for that but sometimes going “home” brings up all those feelings again about “what if this and that or this?!”

    • Liz December 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

      so hard to deal

  7. Susan December 21, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    Probably part of what makes you a wanderer (a strong curiosity) also makes you a wonderer! I suspect it goes hand-in-hand for those of us with a restless nature. I live in my head a lot, too! Sadly or thankfully (?), going to a childhood home for me doesn’t exist – we moved around all of my life and my parents even continued to move around after I moved out, so I’m sort of a mutt. 🙂 Enjoy your holidays at home and your time of reflection – it’s never a bad thing!

    • Liz December 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

      that’s such a perfect way to think about it!

  8. Liliana December 21, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    Hi Liz!!

    Reading what you wrote felt like paraphrasing myself…I get lost in thoughts just like the ones you described here ever since I came back home (this happened 1 year ago and “home” has never really felt like home, to be honest..so i miss my life abroad a lot)
    This being said, I think you are 100% right when you say that we just need to accept what was and what is, and move forward from there. We can always change and try a different “life path” but all that happened till now made you who you are, and living abroad definitely changes you for the better, I believe 🙂
    And yes, I also think that we always want and value what we don’t have and, many times, we don’t even fully appreciate what we DO have in our lives! All those experiences (including dealing with immigration and opening bank accounts in foreign countries…we grow up and learn how to embrace uncertainty and vulnerability , while making it all work out 🙂

    And the great people we meet (those who help us when we are totally lost and don’t have a clue about anything in that new place), the “different personalities” we embody in different languages…all these are PRICELESS and so unique!!

    home can make us go back in time and feel “little”, “inadequate” AND question our choices BUT home was the starting point and we’ve evolved since then and thanks to it! So, don’t get caught up in that image of yourself!! Let’s appreciate our freedom, our love for life “out of the comfort zone” and the endless possibilities ahead of us!! 🙂

    Take care and become good friends with people who think and feel like you, it is absolutely wonderful to feel deeply understood!! 😉

    • Liz December 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

      love that thank you!

  9. John December 21, 2016 at 10:51 am #

    I’m the exact opposite. I’m a Kiwi that has been in Oregon almost 17 years. Going home to visit for me means spending a couple of weeks in the Coromandel or Otago. I can’t identify with any negativity!

    • Liz December 21, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

      Hopefully I’ll feel the same in 17 years!

  10. Dianne Burns December 21, 2016 at 11:09 am #

    I would love to tell you that by the time you reach 66 years of age all will all be crystal clear, but the truth is life s still as mystifying and confusing as when I was 16! If I have figured out anything, the point of life is to enjoy the journey, cherish your decisions whatever the consequences, learn from your mistakes and act accordingly. Travelling has always been and will always be my passion, and I expect the same will hold true for you. Enjoy it. It really is worth it. Every step of the way. Hugs and Happy Holidays.

    • Liz December 21, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

      haha thanks!

  11. Yvette December 21, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

    I’m in a similar situation- 27 year old Kiwi who has moved to Canada to start my OE. All my friends are settling down in some way, shape or form; marriage, kids, buying a house… I could be doing that too, and a lot of the time I do really want that, but I know it will happen ‘one day’ but once you have all that it’s pretty hard to pack your bags and go travelling. i had to escape the reality of this. I figure it’s best to take a few years to travel, be single, be selfish, have fun right now…because once I have a family I won’t be able to do it!
    I find it refreshing to be in a country where no one knows who I am. It’s also bittersweet, because sometimes it’s a bit lonely and I crave security and familiar surroundings. All I know is I would have all these ‘what ifs’ if I stayed in New Zealand and met a guy and settled down. I think a lot of people travel because they want to break free of the person they once were or their circumstances they were in before they left. I also think 99% of people are better off from having dedicated a certain amount of time to travelling.

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 10:59 am #

      totally agree!

  12. Erica December 21, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    Going home can be so hard! I escaped a coal mining town in Pennsylvania where my parents moved during my senior year of college, and came to Virginia (go figure, we switched spots). I had a few hundred bucks but was desperate and stubborn enough to make it work. I got my full time job, my house, my cats, graduate school and a fiance. For me–this works and I’m happy with this life. But for ages it was damn painful to return to Pennsylvania. I was always filled with this sense of panic of having to return there and not being able to escape again. I’ll be in Virginia for five years come this spring and it was only within the past year that I’ve realized I can return to Pennsylvania and not be overwhelmed by anxiety. I wasn’t afraid of getting stuck there or dwelling in my past decisions. In a way, I found where I needed to go with life and I’ve gotten there, it just took a little longer than I would’ve liked. But that’s ok too.

    I feel that in regard to going home and getting that clash of emotions, it’s entirely normal. But it’s particularly hard for those first handful of times you visit (and by handful, I mean this can cover a number of years like it did for me, and it seems for you) but eventually those clash of emotions pass by and you start to just sort of relax (at least that’s what happened for me and a few friends!) Now I actually look forward to returning to my parents because I consider it an escape (no cell reception means I get zero work requests). Those moments to get away have helped me realize that I really hate the bump and grind of government work and the pissy attitude of the DC culture. It’s helped me realize what it is I love and don’t love about an area and now I’m directing my path to another place. I’m sure for awhile after I’ll look back at DC with those crazy emotions but… eh, that’s ok. It’ll mean I’m happier somewhere else. 🙂

    TEAL DEER: I totally get you, I’ve felt the same thing. Welcome home for now! The weather has been stupidly odd this week, hasn’t it?

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:00 am #

      love that thanks for sharing, weather is so weird, I wish it would snow!

  13. Chris December 21, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

    I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. The short of it is that I also have many of the same feelings as you, even though I’m coming at this from the other end of things.

    Two years ago, I finished grad school and spent a month in NZ. Along the way, I met a ton of people who had been all over the world, and who were spending much longer than me abroad.

    After I got home, I started work at a job and place that I really like. But I kept in touch with everyone else who was still traveling and it made me ask questions too.

    Am I happy here, or is it just a safe place that I can say is responsible when I should be out seeing the world instead?
    What will happen if I keep working here?
    Am I throwing life and the remains of youth away?
    Am I hiding from taking the risk of traveling and growing alone, or would that be a fiscally irresponsible flight of fancy?
    Who else could I meet if I keep traveling? Who will I miss if I do?

    In short, what is “right”?

    It seems like a lot of people have suggested that enjoying the ride and the decisions you make are the best things to do. All I can say is that you’re not alone with your existential questions.

    Personally, I agree with your willingness to check in with yourself once in a while and ask if you’re still happy. For what it’s worth, it definitely seems like you lead an exciting life that very few people manage to succeed in!

    I look forward to your next blog post!

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:00 am #

      Thanks!

  14. Sarah December 21, 2016 at 6:20 pm #

    RELATABLE! I am back living close to where I grew up but I still don’t know what i’m doing or where the time is going and often wonder where else I may be had I chosen other paths at life’s crossroads. Have a nice break with your family!

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:00 am #

      Cheers and good luck!

  15. Lizzie December 21, 2016 at 7:53 pm #

    After I lived in New Zealand for 6 months, I had to come home and live with my parents and work a boring desk job for about 6 weeks before I went back to school in Idaho. I was SO miserable and was convinced that when I got back to school everything would go back to normal. Yeah. It didn’t. I felt so out of place and couldn’t figure out where I was supposed to be, or what my “home” was. I think being wanderers and jumping from place to place confuses our sense of belonging sometimes. Reflecting on your sense of place can be challenging but it’s important. Not sure if this is similar to what you’re feeling, but it seemed like a relevant bit to share!

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:01 am #

      totally agree!

  16. Wendy December 21, 2016 at 11:29 pm #

    Thanks for your honesty, Liz! I haven’t lived in Canada in years and I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t think about what would have happened if I chose a different path. I love exploring different countries and learning different cultures. Whenever I start to question my life, I am just reassured that at the time I made these decisions, they were the right ones for me at that time in my life. My husband and I left New Zealand in August to move back to England. We realise it was a total mistake and I am moving back next month and he will follow later in the year. Some choices are good ones, some are bad – but that’s how we learn and grow! I literally break out in hives when I think we could be living in one spot for the rest of our lives. Freaks me out.

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:03 am #

      hahahah same!

  17. Earnest December 21, 2016 at 11:46 pm #

    Wow. Amazing article.
    P.S. I think you are still young enough to take new paths now, like going back to graduate school to write that paper on history which on some level you have always wanted to.

    Have an awesome break and an amazing year ahead! 🙂

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:03 am #

      maybe one day!

  18. Katie December 22, 2016 at 3:18 am #

    Hey, so needed this post… I am also back home (u.k.) for Christmas after spending the most epic three and a half months in N.Z I am lucky enough to be going back to a full time job in South Island in a few weeks, but fuck it’s hard being back… on so many levels, the weather, the people, what has and hasn’t changed and as you say confronting your past and accepting/breaking the news that you may never be home per entry again! Glad it’s not just me. Love your blog, keep it up!

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      So hard hey!

  19. Hajar Rinjani Trekking December 22, 2016 at 4:02 am #

    Hi Liz, I agree with you, the past is past. We won’t be able to change it. All that we can do is learning from it; improving our efforts to reach the goals we failed to get in the past, then we will be happier in the future.

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      Agreed!

  20. Stacy December 22, 2016 at 4:50 am #

    I feel weird and nostalgic when I go home too. I have a whole alternate life mapped out, where I married my high school sweetheart, became a teacher, and never left. The bizarre thing is that my life now is so much better for me than that would have been, but I still think about it.

    You only get to do life once, so I think it’s natural to dwell on what could have been.

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      Agree!

  21. Casey December 22, 2016 at 5:00 am #

    Oh my, how I can relate all too well to this post. I just returned to my hometown in Sun Valley, Idaho after three months in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and I’m having similar feelings and thoughts. While I do love returning home, it’s something I always struggle with because nothing changes while I’m gone. On my travels, I grow so much and have these incredible experiences with amazing people, and then I return home where I’m expected to jump back in where I left off. It’s really difficult. I, too, am always in my head and when I’m at home I often wonder if I’ve made the right decisions in my life and question my path. I guess I don’t really have any advice on this, but I wanted to say that you’re not alone with these feelings and struggles. My kernel of hope here is to say that it always works out. Life always works out and continuing to follow our hearts and intuition is the only thing we can do to know we’re moving in the right direction. Thank you for sharing.

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:05 am #

      I just chatted with a friend about this about how people grow at different paces

  22. Marnie December 22, 2016 at 6:16 am #

    It’s so interesting seeing your thoughts on this. I for one, never moved from home and it’s my dream to live in New Zealand. I know it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but it does seem like a grass is always greener on the other side situation. In comparison with living in New Zealand my life here seems so dull. No little lambs to cuddle with!

    If it’s any consolation, I love your blog and Instagram and seeing all of your amazing pictures. It makes me feel hopeful I’ll get back to New Zealand again and gives me ideas to plan my next trip.

    I hope you have a wonderful holiday. 2017 is gonna be a good year, I can feel it!!

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:05 am #

      Thanks!

  23. Hannah December 22, 2016 at 7:26 am #

    Like you, I also moved abroad after college, floating around from country to country. I taught English for two years in Spain (like you!) and was an Au Pair in Holland and Spain. I am 29, back in NY where I grew up, and finally in graduate school at Parsons. It took a long time to get here, but I wouldn’t change my path.

    A lot of my friends are married with kids, and I often think that if I had just stayed, I could be too. The thing is, that wasn’t my path. To tell you the truth, a lot of them are envious of my travels, and wish they had had the adventures I have experienced. You have an amazing life, and you should be proud of the career you have built for yourself.

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:06 am #

      haha I am but I can’t help but wonder sometimes haha

  24. Jennifer December 22, 2016 at 8:21 am #

    Really nice post! I totally can relate to some of the feelings you wrote on your blog post. 🙂

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:06 am #

      thanks!

  25. Brubunce December 22, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    So very true! Such an honest and direct way of saying it, what it is like to go back home while away. At home, you think about all the decisions you made that lead you to this special place in your life where you are at now. I just came back home recently, and realized even when I think about the past like that, I realize that I definitely made the right decision because of how much happier I am now. It is just hard to face when you come back home, because being away protects you from remembering the past.

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:06 am #

      totally agree!

  26. Stephanie Craig December 22, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    Uh I’m home right now. As much as my family loves me and gets what I do, they still don’t. Coming home is good (relaxing, restorative) and bad (boring, feel trapped). Part of it I think is it’s just hard to be an adult in your parents’ spare bedroom.

    I’m working from a Starbucks and everyone else here is a high school student at my old high school studying for finals. Life is weird.

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:06 am #

      SO FREAKING WEIRD

  27. Katie December 22, 2016 at 11:21 pm #

    This article was comforting to me. Ironically I’m in the opposite situation (I’m from Ohio and I’m currently in Budapest on vacation) but I’m a lot like you. I’m in college right now and it’s been very hard for me because I have emotional issues which has affected my schoolwork and relationships, and sometimes I wonder if my life would be better if I have gone to another school. I also live in my head and think in hypothetical terms. I obsess over the past. I feel better to know about I’m not the only one and this was a reminder to me that all you can do is think about the future and where your past can take you. Good luck!

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:07 am #

      You are SO not alone!

  28. passing stranger December 23, 2016 at 12:15 am #

    i often visit some of the old places like my old school and live in the past start to het a heart ache don’t know i kind off miss the simplify back then yet i hate how insecure and close minded the envionrment i was in but i guess part of loves/hate the past we live and learn loved your post it touched me!!!

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:07 am #

      same glad you liked it!

  29. Ron December 23, 2016 at 9:37 am #

    Winchester is only several hours south of my old home in Pennsylvania. Been years since I’ve back – most of my friends and family have either passed or moved south to warmer weather.

    My hip wore out making traveling very uncomfortable I just dread the thought of going through the replacement procedure. What if the thing gets recalled? It happened many times in the past. Think I’ll just put it off.

    Merry Christmas

    • Liz December 23, 2016 at 11:08 am #

      Merry Christmas!

  30. Rita December 23, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

    it just speaks to me. i relate to it so much. and you are so honest about it, thank you for making me feel the only one who feels so much at the same time) it’s weird yet wonderful how all the decissions we made (or didn’t make) took us where we are now. and it’s strange to think what would have happened if you didn’t do something or did something differently. god, i just feel too much)

    • Liz December 24, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

      Thanks!

  31. Siggi December 24, 2016 at 5:17 am #

    Hi Liz-

    I really enjoyed your honesty here (I mean, what else could we expect from you by now!) but it is great that I am not the only one who has these feelings! I grew up in a very small town and when I go back it reminds me of how much I’ve changed and how much I’ve lost (high school “friends”, ex boyfriends). It’s like learning to see it through new eyes.

    BUT- then I have to remember that I am being true to myself now, and live for myself. It is never too late to change directions. You have to do what your heart wants to do!

    • Liz December 24, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

      Exactly, well put!

  32. Hena P December 24, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    Hi Liz, I come to your blog sometimes to read on your adventures. I came to Canada ten years ago when I was 16 and have stayed here ever since. It’s been ten years. My parents have stayed in Korea working except for the first year I was here, so I go visit them once a year, back to my hometown.

    Thinking about our pasts and wondering what might have been is relatively normal for a lot of people, myself and other comments included. I also often wonder the impact of decisions I make now, on which I’m likely to reflect somewhere down the road. Like you, I too have lots of questions.

    I went through this writing exercise at Self-Authoring just to see if it’d help me answer some of these questions, and maybe even to understand why I ask these questions at all – “I made my decisions the best way I could at the time. Should I just accept the past as is, and move on?”

    All I can say is, these questions don’t keep resurfacing anymore – like when you go home. I feel I have finally been able to reconcile with these questions and set my soul free. It’s not stuck, hiding, or going around in circles anymore.

    I bought a two for one package for the whole suite (past, present and future) on promotion a while back, and have been looking to see if anyone else would benefit from it. When I read your post I thought you may be interested – so shoot me an email if you are and I’ll send you the login and the password if you like.

    Keep harnessing your unique talents that captivate and fuel your life. I truly believe that is what we can do to make our contribution to the world.

    Cheers!

    • Liz December 24, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

      Thanks!

  33. Jane Yost December 24, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    OMG Liz that was like reading my own story, but 35 years ago! I had all those same feelings whenever I was home (or had to return, you know, broke ‘n’ all). I asked myself what could have been *IF* many times over. I noticed how friends had finished college and were already under way in their careers, and I was still “finding myself” (aka enjoying traveling too much to stop yet). I loved reconnecting with home and my childhood bed, but also hated being there in my parents’ home again because it made me question myself. Funny how the family dynamics never really change even when we mature and return to them with all our fabulous experiences and new insights into life swiriling around in our heads.

    I say don’t get hung up on whether you’re on the so-called normal trajectory (ie., finding man while ovaries still rapid firing!), just keep doing what you’re doing because that’s what you love and it’s good for you NOW. Things will fall into place. There are SO many girls/women reading your blog, I’m sure, who are ENVIOUS of your guts to take the bull by the horns and live such a life.

    Except for obvious things, my life was similar to yours … didn’t want to go to Uni (at least you started), constant travels, before deciding that photography was the obvious thing because I had always been interested in it and had a big photojournalistic streak that needed to be itched. Then other things began falling into place. Born and raised in Sydney & Tasmania, then ended up in Colorado and ultimately Pennsylvania (I’m not all that far from you now!). I’m a photographer and ski instructor. Not big professional careers necessarily, but they suit ME. Husband, two children, both of whom are probably your age now. One in Va, the other in Sydney spreading her own wings … just like her Mum.

    Viva life’s journey, and journeys, and keep doing it your way. You will know when a change is in order.

    Merry Christmas!

    (instagram @emjaynie4)

    • Liz December 24, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

      You’re amazing, thanks for sharing that!!

  34. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas December 24, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    Oh man, this post gave me all the feels! I’m often misty-eyed when I touch down in Chicago once a year thinking about how different life could have been if it weren’t for break ups, for defying my parents’ wishes for me, for Spain, for kissing that Spanish boy who bought me a few drinks simply because he bought me a few drinks.

    Home, for me, is also the constant. I pull out yearbooks, old photos and even old college bar crawl shirts when I’m home. I can keep all of that stuff at arm’s (well, a plan ride’s) length away, but I find myself snuggling up to it when I’m home. It’s a strange contrast between the life someone essentially built for you, and the one you’re forging for yourself.

    Excuse me while I get all my cry out now before my parents arrive.

    • Liz December 25, 2016 at 3:47 am #

      so glad you know what I mean! Don’t cry haha!

  35. The Untourists December 26, 2016 at 1:39 am #

    It’s always lovely and nostalgic to return Home, or what was childhood home. I try and connect with all the people who are still around and it’s always full of nostalgia and fun… And the occasional sad stuff… It’s an experience

    • Liz December 28, 2016 at 11:24 am #

      So much nostalgia!

  36. pilla December 26, 2016 at 8:40 pm #

    I am home for Xmas now. Always a special feeling.

    • Liz December 28, 2016 at 11:25 am #

      It’s nice in a way isn’t it?

  37. Jane December 28, 2016 at 11:50 pm #

    Going home has made me confront many truths that were hard, but necessary to move on with my life. Great post.

    • Liz December 29, 2016 at 11:55 am #

      that’s a good way to look at it!

  38. Abigail Slater December 31, 2016 at 4:20 am #

    Going home is hard for me too, I related so strongly to this post. My family made so many changes in the last two years, from leaving a religion to all of us moving away, that sometimes it’s hard not to wonder what could have gone differently. What if I hadn’t met my current boyfriend? What if I hadn’t switched majors? It goes on forever and ever, but the one thing that keeps me together is knowing that all the what-ifs would have lead to a life that’s not half as happy as the one I have now, which means I must be doing something right.

    I hope your holidays were wonderful!

    • Liz December 31, 2016 at 6:40 am #

      That’s a good way to think about it!

  39. Peggy January 13, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    I know how you feel – everytime I go home to Malaysia where I grew up I digress into my 16 year old self. It’s weird how your sense of self can be so tired to your sense of place. It’s hard to assess which road less travelled is better or worse – I think we wanderers just have to make our peace with the choices we made. And go from there. I’m quite risk averse and so have been / will be spending more time accumulating enough of a wealth base before I quit my job to travel full time. But that day is coming. Will I regret not going sooner aka now? Maybe. But I know myself, and if I go too soon I will spend days on the road also worried about bills and possible medical emergencies. So. we make the best decisions we can, at the time we do, while we are who we are. Good luck, Liz!

    • Liz January 14, 2017 at 4:58 pm #

      so weird hey???

  40. Akshay January 17, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

    A Special Feeling Liz. Good one

    • Liz January 18, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

      thanks 🙂

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  1. 20 adventures from 2016 that made me go "is this real life?" - Young Adventuress - December 31, 2016

    […] out by the way, if you haven’t already. I was started to get a bit panicky, either from being back at home at my parents’ house in Virginia, which can bring forth all sorts of feelings and general […]

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