When Home doesn’t Feel like Home Anymore

So like I said, I’m back in the states now, starting the next chapter, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

As an expat one of the hardest things in readjusting to American culture and coming home is this overarching feeling of “otherness”.  For the last month, I’ve been back in my hometown, the place I grew up from the time I started kindergarten until the day I moved away for college.

I mean, it still feels like home, but in a weird way now.  Like I’m walking through the fog, and not entirely engaged. My parents’ house is still the same, with a ton of family pictures on the walls, and a warm, welcoming feeling.  Everyone at church is friendly and kind, and there is nothing in the world wrong with the place or the people, nothing has changed.

Then again, I’ve changed, and that makes it hard.  My world-view and perspective have changed in an intangible way that I can’t quite express.  I still look the same, so from the outside, everyone seems to have certain cultural expectations of me, of my views and who I’m supposed to be.

Not all of these biases are bad, I don’t guess, but I feel like people have already put me in a box that is constrained by who they think I should be, based on my physical characteristics, education, religion, social-economic status and all of these physical things we use to try and quantify our world.

I no longer feel like I fit in with people who look like me, talk like me, share a common culture and religion with me, I don’t fit into the box. My views have become my own, and I don’t seem to fit in anywhere.

Honestly, it was the same in China, but at least there I knew I was a foreigner.  Here, I’m supposed to fit in.  Being overseas has given me a perspective and insight on how cultures and the world work.  Five-thousand years of Chinese culture thought and traditions have seeped into my soul and changed the lens with which I view the world and the way I view people who are immigrants, visitors and first-generation Americans in this country.

I am realizing for the first time that the world with its various religions, cultural traditions, social norms and even governments, are not quite so black and white.  People are people everywhere, and the large majority are just trying to live quiet lives, provide for their families, develop meaningful connections with friends, and have a few solitary moments to watch the sunset or enjoy sitting in a comfortable corner enjoying a hot cup of tea/coffee/water.

What do you do when home doesn’t feel like home anymore?

Have you ever felt like this?  Leave a comment and let’s talk about it.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sandy Ellis says:

    I have felt this way. When I first moved to TX;I feel at home now, but when I go back to Elkton to visit my grand kids and everyone. It is not the same. Even though everything is the same I feel like a visitor. I think because life has moved on we grow and change and so do the people that are left at home. With that said I don’t know that there is an easy answer. Pray about what you should do and see what happens. I know that sounds like a pat answer ,but you will find one. Be open to where God leads you Praying with you and for you. Sandy

  2. Linnie Parrish says:

    Yes, Chrissi! Although I have not been in a foreign country, I have left my home state and lived apart from my close family and relatives, due to the business my husband was in. I missed so many holidays , Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, and family reunions. It wasn’t by choice. It was by economic and distance reasons. I missed marriages, funerals, sometimes. When the children grew older, I could travel back home a little more frequently, but places and people change. The places I grew up around changed by turning into less desirable places to live. My parents moved, friends moved,relatives died, cousins had their own families.When I was able to visit, they had their own lives and were not available for visits. It did not take too many of these times before I stopped telling them when I was coming to visit, since they were too busy to make time for when I ” came home” .
    Now my parents are gone, the farm was sold long ago, the old neighborhood in southeast Dallas is a ghetto. The Big Town Mall, which was the first shopping center under one roof, that opened in 1959, I believe, is torn down and a big box distribution company opened there.
    The few times I have returned for visits home are indeed not home.So I could put this in a different perspective. Our lives are just a temporary home on this earth. Our real home awaits us in heaven.

  3. Thaks ladies for your encouragement. Yes, coming home is hard, but it’s hard for all of us to try and find our place in the world. I’m doing a little better now, I think. I’m just trying to take things one day at a time and enjoy the small blessings in life. That’s all we can do really, just do whatever good we can to whomever we might come across knowing that we may never pass this way again. Like you said Linnie – this world is not our home, we’re just passing through. Love you all.

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