Here I am again. My housemates are back, I’m sleeping in my bed and my last semester of college has officially started. And now I can say that I HAVE BEEN to Southeast Asia. For so long it was “I am going”…but now my trip to Bangladesh is a trip in my past.
And it’s weird coming back to my normal. The friends and family and house and bed that I missed. The little things, like my tea mugs and my pillow and the blankets that lie on the couches in our living room. The classes that I have and the meetings to set and the functions I have to attend. The hugs and the good conversations and the silly inside jokes that even I don’t understand after a while.
When I last left the country to go to Mexico three years ago, I came back and realized that the way I saw America had changed forever. It was akin to a case of reverse culture shock. And I thought that would happen again when I came back from Bangladesh. Not only is Bangladesh a more severe example of poverty, but I was there longer and more invested in the people I met.
But I didn’t get culture shock…not in the Dubai airport with it’s crazy expensive shops or the flights to everywhere, not in the Seattle airport where I was surrounded by white people once again. Not when I walked into my house and flung myself on my bed and sunk into the mattress or meandered through the halls giving hugs to my housemates and friends. In a way it seemed as if the flight from Dubai was merely waking up from a dream. The dream, of course, being two weeks of doing something I had never done in my life.
How do I react to an experience like that? Wonderful and life changing, yes. Aren’t I supposed to come back with big realizations about LIFE and CAREER and FAMILY and GOALS?
Because I didn’t get BIG realizations.
Instead I was allowed to explore the part of myself that often gets lost in my typical outgoing personality. The part of me that, just as travel is important, knows that family is equal in importance. The part of me that wants to save the world, knows that I alone cannot save it. The part of me that is passionate and empathetic, knows too that I can never fully understand the things I’ve seen.
And to know…that those quiet, softer parts of myself are alright. Are important. That without them I’m not whole or complete or fully me or whatever individualistic idiom you want to use. And I think that was something I really needed. To see the parts of myself that I don’t always see, and to know that they are okay.
And the funny thing is…I think everyone important to me already knew that. I just didn’t get the memo until now.
So now, as I go back to my normal and back to my daily grind, I can tell that my outlook has changed. I’m still my passionate, loud self. But there is the perspective of my quiet self, the self that balances the extrovert. And from an experience like Bangladesh, that is the best thing I ever could have learned.