And just like that my trip in Mexico was over. Gone were the tacos. The insanely spicy chilli sauce which I poured by mistake all over my tacos and nearly died eating. The daily agua de jamaica. The adventures with strangers. The sunrises and the sunsets.
Just like that, almost as if no time had passed at all, I was back in my flat in London. Back with the familiar grey skies, the familiar streets and the familiar faces. The familiar warnings of unexpected items in bagging areas and the familiar sense of routine that always comes with a return home.
The familiarity can be soothing, a balm to a weary traveller. A sense of grounding. Of stability and normality. Of security. There is no doubt that I felt this, a sense of safety that comes with sleeping in my own bed and being able to easily buy Oatly, but if I’m honest, I’ve always struggled a bit with coming home after trips away.
It’s strange. There seems to be some magic thing that happens when I get on a plane to somewhere else. Even though I’m technically still doing the same thing as I am at home, still working every day, still having weekends, still doing yoga and still being painfully introspective, I seem to also manage to squeeze in so many thousands of new experiences over a period that in London I miiiight have tried..erm… maybe a new coffee shop?
I come home and seem to be smacked in the face by a kind of reverse culture shock. A bizarre sense of having changed so much over a period where everyone else barely noticed I’d left. A strange sense of having outgrown the ways in which I previously interacted with the city, like being squeezed into a pair of jeans that are just a little bit too tight and you can fit into them but then all day you’re painfully aware that they are just that liiittle bit too small and your thighs feels all squashed. Like that. A strange sense of being squashed into a space that I’d outgrown.
Whilst pondering my too small London jeans, I realised this may well be how a lot of people are feeling post lockdown life. Creeping out into the world after a year of weirdness and attempting to smoothly transition back into the rhythms of pre lockdown life and then feeling this strange sense of something not being quite right, not quite fitting as snugly as it did 18 months ago.
It can be a bit disconcerting to find yourself in a space where the life which used to work so well suddenly feels ‘off’. Especially when there was so much anticipation of getting back to normal… what if normal feels weird? What if the normal you used to live doesn’t fit anymore? What if, like me, you’ve outgrown your previous normal?
I see you.
It’s uncomfortable AF.
It can make us feel a little lost.
A little lonely.
And if you’re anything like me… a little bit existential crisis-y.
Whilst pondering the nature of my existence and why I was feeling so damn weird about coming back to London I realised that all that had happened was that I’d come home and was trying to squeeze myself into a pair of jeans that was a little bit too squashed, when maybe, I should just figure out what it would feel like to buy a bigger pair. Maybe I should just figure out how I wanted to be in London. How I wanted to interact with the city. How I wanted to live here. And then with all the how’s, be intentional around living that way.
The discomfort we feel in trying to fit back into a previous version of our lives is a BLESSING. It’s there to tell us that, you know what, that life I used to be living doesn’t suit anymore, let’s mix things up, let’s try something new. Let’s BUY A BIGGER PAIR OF JEANS.
So that is what I did, or am in the process of doing: rather than trying to squish myself back into my way of being pre Mexican adventure, I can create a new way of being here which includes some of the aspects of life a la Mexicana which I enjoyed, like meeting new people every day, trying new places, finding a sense of adventure in new experiences, going out of my way to find random things to do (like the salsa course I just signed up for, or the sweat lodge retreat I’m doing in September, or going out for dinner with strangers who are in London for a couple of weeks for work & looking for dining company).
The thing is, we always have a CHOICE. Every single thing you do in life is a choice. EVERYTHING. Anything done out of obligation is disempowering. So take your power back by realising how much you can CHOOSE what to do and what not to do.
Spend some time understanding what you do and don’t want from life now. Be intentional about how you are spending your energy. Be intentional about what you do and don’t do. For me, this meant sitting down for 30 mins and asking myself some questions, writing out whatever came to me and then deciding, every day, to act on those answers.
- How do you feel at the moment?
- What, if anything, do you feel is missing in your life at the moment?
- What would an ideal life post lockdown look like for you?
- How do you want to feel at the moment?
- When did you last feel this way? How can you reconnect to that feeling
- What would make life feel expansive for you right now?
- What things can you do in the next week to connect to that expansion?
Let me know how you get on.