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Day 5: It’s more like community shock.

“I’VE BEEN HOME FOR SIX MONTHS THIS IS WAY. TOO. LONG. FOR ME TO STILL BE IN REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK!!!!!!!!”

That’s what I said in November. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t culture shock, it was just the new normal. I’d always be afraid of driving, never feel settled being in one place for more than thirty days, and never have a normal appetite again. Life would always feel upside down to me.

But that wasn’t totally accurate(although I’m still not convinced I’ll ever like driving again).

The actual “culture shock” only lasted about six weeks. This involved
~trying to convert currencies in my head at Walmart before remembering all the prices were already in USD
~accidentally driving on the left side of the road(I did do that three weeks ago…but it was the first time in a long while)
~confusion at the fact that I never heard anyone around me speak any other language than English
~two full weeks of jet lag
and a host of other small symptoms that were more amusing than they were inconvenient. Talking really slow and pointing to every word on the menu as I ordered at restaurants was the funniest.

What’s left over now is what I decided today to call “community shock.”

Relationships don’t work the same way in normal life as they do on the World Race, or any other situation where you’re thrust into a group of people knowing that these are your friends for the next determined number of weeks or months. It’s a fishbowl.
One day I had six women who knew everything about me, within a group of forty-three people who loved each other like family, and then I went home and had nothing. Well, comparatively nothing. A mom and a dad and a thirteen-year-old brother at home, a nineteen-year-old brother at college, and a best friend who lives two hours away. That was all the community I had.

24/7 community is hard…but it’s also easy. You don’t have to make time to get to know those people because you live together and do everything together. And you’re together because you have some shared major interest.
In that kind of environment, you learn someone’s deep dark secrets before you even know their birthday or how many siblings they have. In real life, it takes a lot longer to open people up, and that still doesn’t feel normal to me. I don’t know yet how to walk the line between saying nothing and saying everything, or at what point I don’t have to walk it anymore…I feel like there are too many rules and everyone else already knows them. And I just have to be patient while I learn.

I’m not okay with that, because I want to be normal NOW. I like checklists and shortcuts. I have no patience for undefined processes, and that’s exactly what I’m walking through.
But I like having this figured out. Knowing why I’m not back to normal yet is a good feeling.

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