Lessons I Learned from Spending a Summer Abroad- #1

IMG_8296We’ve been home for almost a month now, and I have enjoyed every single minute of it. Yes, I still have ocean withdrawals, but I can’t think of a time in my life when I haven’t wanted to be on a beach, so I am slowly getting used to not living within walking distance again.

Like our first experience abroad, Derek and I spent this summer focusing on our ourselves and each other. Time away from home means unfamiliarity, being uncomfortable, and a lot of changes in perspective and mind set. With all of these changes, comes a lot of life lessons learned. I think learning these type of lessons and having the personal growth that I’ve experienced is my absolute favorite thing about traveling, or living in a different place. I absolutely love coming home with a new outlook.

Like my China experience, I am going to share the five main lessons I brought home with me from living abroad this summer. Each lesson is just as important as the others, but knowing myself, I have a lot to share,  so I will be posting each one separately.IMG_8292

Lesson #1- You never realize how great your comfort zone is, until you don’t have it

I think most people go through life feeling quite comfortable. Obviously, there are the occasional moments that bring us all discomfort: public speaking, job interviews, learning something new, the first day at a new place or school, meeting our in laws, etc.

And then there are the more serious things that bring us discomfort: being laid off from a job, going through divorce, dealing with physical and mental health issues, totaling our cars, natural disasters, death of loved ones, etc.

But overall, I think most people are able to live a comfortable life even when they are dealt with uncomfortable situations. They may think “my life is horrible” or “I have bad luck” but I hardly ever hear of someone saying “I am constantly uncomfortable” because I think as humans, we tend to make things work, and find comfort even in the most unfamiliar situations, or we eventually find our way back to the things that make us comfortable.IMG_8291IMG_8290And that leads me to lesson #1. I knew that moving to a different country would force me out of my comfort zone. I knew I’d have to live without the things I was used to like my car, my house, my favorite foods, and being in close proximity to family and friends. I expected to not have hot water or air conditioning, and I obviously expected to be uncomfortable.

see lesson #4 from my China experience—> https://thestellarstories.com/2018/01/24/lessons-i-learned-from-living-abroad-4/

I’ve always been one to like change and unfamiliarity, so I jumped into this opportunity expecting a lot of feelings of discomfort. Like I mentioned before, I personally enjoy the self growth and lessons that come from those situations. What I did not expect is to have such a strong realization of just HOW comfortable I was back home.

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IMG_8294I didn’t have this realization until about our half way mark, when all I wanted was something familiar and to feel comfortable again. I was over not having air conditioning, living off food I didn’t love, and not being able to take a hot bath. These are all little things, but for the first time in a very long time, I longed for the feeling of my comfort zone. After spending a good 7 weeks out of it, I really started to miss it and I had the realization that comfort zones aren’t always a bad thing, most of us just tend to take them for granted.

Since being home, I have enjoyed every single minute of being comfortable again and I have focused on the appreciation of all of the little tings I missed while I was gone. The sounds of Harvey’s feet on our hardwood floor, the creaking of our air conditioner. The smell of my candles, and our coffee pot. Driving in my car alone with the windows down, the feeling of my own bed and my bath tub! Practicing yoga in my yoga room with Harvey breathing next to me, cooking in my kitchen while blasting music. Even pulling my weeds and planting flowers. I’m usually far from a homebody, but stepping away from all of these ordinary, every day things gave me a new appreciation of them, and I’ve enjoyed doing each of them more than I ever have.1

I had this similar realization when we came home from living abroad the first time and I learned to not take these little things for granted, but it was much stronger this time around. It took me being VERY uncomfortable, for a long period of time. It took every ounce of my mental strength, patience, and “my first world problems” to disappear completely, before I realized that I actually enjoy being comfortable, and I have it so good at home.

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IMG_8287Since being home, I have enjoyed the simple things like being surrounded by people who I love. I’ve enjoyed driving on familiar roads, and having a routine. I’ve enjoyed the places and the little things that I missed so badly, and I have finally consciously enjoyed the feeling of being comfortable in my comfort zone. Even though I know I will eventually crave stepping out of it, I’ve learned to never take it for granted again.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

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