An Outsider to My Old Life

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Toronto, Ontario

Since I have arrived back to Toronto things have been emotional. The problem with being introspective is that you tend to overanalyze everything. It is not a good thing.


Things are familiar but I am a stranger.


It’s not about going back to work. Examining how everyone interacts with me is problematic; if someone is too busy to meet I jump to the conclusion that they do not care about me.

Though I was gone for a year and a half it feels like no time has passed and I have this unrealistic expectation that things should be the same. It’s like a wrinkle in time, but I have learned something important.


I’m kinda a jerk.


I have been selfish, impatient, trying to slip back into my old life. But that life no longer exists.

And just as I am different so is everyone else.

It is unreasonable to come back after travel for a year and a half and expect everyone to be the same. I changed and so did they – my ex is seeing someone else, my best friend got married, another had a baby, some friends went from voraciously single to committed relationships.

But if I keep saying I can’t go back to my old life isn’t this what I want. I don’t want things to be the same so instead of wasting my time mourning my old life is gone, it is better to focus on the new one.

As much as it hurts to admit I need to stop being so self centered and realize that I’m not everyone’s first priority. Sometimes when you travel for so long and experience sheer selfishness you forget the sun doesn’t rise and set just for you.

It hurts when you realize you are the cause of the problem. But at least now I know and I’m ready to really start from scratch this time.

I just hope my friends have room for me now.







Join the Conversation

  1. I have all of the room in the world for you! Now come visit me in Halifax! 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      My mother always tells me I can always come home.

  2. Touching. I can absolutely relate. I travel a lot. It’s a very selfish world when I do this. Returning to a place I used to call home only to find that appears on the outside like everything is the same but people have moved on, they change.

    I expected things to be the same but they aren’t. It’s all different.

    And I am the one who has to evolve develop new friends and decide if this is where I want to remain.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Before I left I wasn’t very proactive in making new friendships but obviously travel changed that, I have to stay in that mindset here to meet new people. I don’t want to replace friends but I need to cast a wider circle here if I really want to be happy.

  3. I have similar feelings as well, especially when I go home to Hawaii. It’s weird to know someplace so well yet feel like you don’t belong. Actually, I don’t think I really feel like I belong anywhere. I think that’s why I like airports. It’s like you’re always in-between…

    Great post 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I love the feeling of getting to an airport. The anticipation of what may happen is addictive.

  4. I know the feeling far too well. Just know that you’re not alone!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Greg, hopefully I’ll be like the others and things will get better!

  5. Funny, I’m actually back “home” in Atlanta right now. I’ve only been gone 7 months but it’s still weird. So many things are so familiar yet so different at the same time b/c everyone moves on. It’s hard b/c I feel myself drifting away from my old life & my friends here but, other than Andy, I don’t have any close friends or a job or anything that’s just mine in Germany yet so it’s hard. Feels like I’m in limbo. I don’t think you’re a jerk. Maybe you’re just craving a little familiarity & trying to work out the next step in your life & how to fit in again. (P.S. Thanks for the comment on my interview on No Place To Be!)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I can see how you would feel like you were in limbo. It would be difficult to be somewhere temporarily, maybe waiting for the rest of your life to begin.

  6. RenegadePilgrim says:

    I can relate. I was only gone 5 months though. It seemed like eternity. I changed. I saw things. I experienced stuff. My world view grew larger. I have been home a year and a half now and I’ve come to realize that my circle of friends has shrunk. I don’t seem to be as close to some people as I used to. My closest friends are those I have met after coming back…people who didn’t know me before I traveled.

    I can’t believe I am approaching my two year mark of leaving in the first place, but it doesn’t seem like I’ve ever completely returned either. Sometimes my head is in other places…sometimes I wish I was in another place.

    I am sure things will get better, but I think what you are going through is completely normal…hang in there!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Interesting that you still wish to be somewhere else. My hope is that I am content where I am, if not I’ll definitely leave again. I didn’t feel like I belonged on the road anymore, I just hope that means I belong home.

  7. Wow do I remember that feeling. I was away on and off over a two year period between the end of 2007 – 2009. I think moving back to my hometown made it even stranger. I never thought I’d live here again. It does get easier but I still do miss waking up somewhere new on a regular basis. Welcome home–I look forward to hearing about your future adventures.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I hope somehow I can find a combination of the two. I seem to be craving routine but I don’t want to lose the sense of adventure and freedom I had while traveling.

  8. dtravelsround says:

    I know exactly where you are coming from. It seems like we all go through this when we get back. We expect things to be the same, and they are not. The people we knew aren’t the same. We are not the same. It’s important to never forget what changed you though, even if right now, you aren’t your biggest fan. You have to learn to love you in this world again. When I got home, and even now, more than a year later, there were moments, hell, days, of hard. It goes away. You spent a lot of time in an entirely different world than the people around you, and coming back to what you left is not easy. You’ve got a world of support though! 🙂 <3

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am hoping with time it gets easier, but you are right I cannot forget the parts of me that have changed, I need to now integrate them into this life.

  9. Out of curiousity, while you were traveling, did you really believe the “sun rose and set just for you?” I’m finding the exact opposite.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s an exaggeration but there is a degree of selfishness you enjoy while traveling. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want.

  10. This is something that I’m also concerned about. So far I’ve been gone for 2 years with a few visits home each summer. My first visit home it took a little while to get used to the fact that most people (aside from close friends and family) weren’t going to clear their schedules to see me. We’ll see what happens in another year or two when I’m ready to come home for good.

    Hopefully you’ll be able to reconnect with the people who matter most to you. And maybe it was time to let go of the others. Good luck settling back in. Thanks for such an honest post.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      In some way it hurts because you want them to think you are worth making time for, but in so many cases they have simply moved on without you. There are a few people I will make the effort to reconnect with and I guess not stress about the others.

  11. i lived abroad for around 8 months and when i came back i was totally lost

    friends had moved on into relationships and to be honest i prefered being abroad and ever since coming back ive been looking for somewhere to move abroad to again

    sometimes i think i just keep running away from things trying find a better life or to scared to settle down and regret it latter on

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I do feel like it’s the right time to be home, I just need to stop obsessing over how things have changed and just adapt to it. That is easier said than done.

  12. Heading home for a couple of months in May, and already feeling like this. I’m super keen to plan nights out and weekends away and catch-ups with friends…and everyone is like, chill, that’s two months away. We have lives that don’t actually revolve around you, and you’re the one who chose to be gone–at least, that’s the subtext I’m getting. Can relate, no fun.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah it can really feel like that, they feel like you left them and there’s an underlying animosity.

  13. Emily in Chile says:

    I went through something similar when I got back from studying abroad in Chile. It’s hard to adjust your mindset and to remember that everyone hasn’t just been sitting around waiting for you to get home. I don’t have any advice beyond waiting it out, but know that you’re not alone in your feelings.

  14. Gillian @OneGiantStep says:

    I found coming home difficult for all kinds of reasons – some I expected, others that came out of nowhere and, sometimes, I had absolutely no idea why I was feeling the way I did. I think it’s all part of the journey – the planning, the traveling and the coming home. Hang in there Ayngelina!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The coming home could be the hardest, you think things will be familiar but they never are.

  15. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    They will make room for you!!! 🙂

  16. Things will get easier… I can’t imagine how hard it is to be home, when you feel like “travel” was your home. You can always come visit me in Florida and i’ll be your friend, selfish and all! 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      And now you are off, maybe we’ll cross paths sometime 🙂

  17. This is the kind of post that I have the most trouble reading. I “hear” the inflection in your voice and I just want to give you a hug. It sounds a little like when you lose someone and you realize that your “normal” has changed and life moves on with or without us. It is hard to hold the mirror up to our own face…but very brave too!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks, I know it will get better. It always does.

  18. Chrystal McKay says:

    This is a bit of a left field comment but A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favourite childrens books. It takes about 1 hour to read and brings a smile to my face. It has a great concept of time travel and time change. Pick it up – maybe it will make you smile too.

    I also understand your sentiments of life changing but expecting it to be the same. This is the first I’ve been home longer than 3 days in about 2.5 years.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s one of mine as well. I should read it again.

  19. Cara Lopez Lee says:

    After a year of solo travel, it took me about a year and three big moves to three different jobs in three states before I landed in a situation that made sense for me. I didn’t even try returning to the place I’d left behind… which made all the running around a lot easier on me, more like a slow tapering off from the journey. But whooo, what an expensive learning experience! I find it easy to travel on a shoestring, but changing jobs and moving cross country can get spendy when you’re doing it on your own dime.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Wow 3 cities. I am trying to do things differently in Toronto. I love the city and I really think it’s big enough that eventually I will find my place.

  20. As much as we tried to prepare for it and though we’d done it before, nothing really prepares you for your homecoming. I feel your emotions 100 percent. It’s been a long, emotional journey getting back and your thoughts resonate with me so well. We returned “home” a year ago and still feel like we’re trying to land. Our old shoes just don’t seem to fit anymore, but I guess it’s all part of the journey. Hang in there…it gets easier. Thanks for the honest post!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I knew it would be tough, especially after having been home this summer but I had no idea it would be like this. Feelings aren’t logical and we can’t really prepare for them.

  21. If your friends don’t have room for you now, then they weren’t very good friends to start with. Were they? Welcome home. It must be unsettling to be settling down…for a while. Most travelers that I’ve met only settle down until they’ve saved enough money for another adventure. Can’t wait to see where you go next!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Right now I’m definitely done traveling for at least a while. I want to wait until the excitement comes back. I miss that.

  22. Good luck! Of course they have room for you now. I felt like I didn’t belong and then got schooled a few months in. They told me they were so excited to have me back, and I had recoiled into work and staying home. (It was good to have a home!) Your friends have missed you. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I think you just become hypersensitive to every reaction. I just need to relax a bit and give it time.

  23. Nomadic Chick says:

    I know, hon, it can be hard when everyone moved forward… but you have as well. You probably arren’t the same person anymore. It is time to embrace the new you, new life and new chapter. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I keep reminding myself, it’s a good thing. I didn’t want to go back to my old life so I have to jump into the new one.

  24. Thank you for your honesty in this post. I needed it. 🙂 I’ve been feeling some similar things since starting a new life in Australia. I just don’t matter much to most of the people I left behind. It hurts, but I’m seeing that it’s OK. I can still treasure my times with them AND focus on building a new community in this new place. Big hug to you. You’re always welcome and wanted in Australia. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks so much Krista, you never know you just may see me there…

  25. Jade - says:

    I think it is also made harder by the times we feel homesick and glamorize our lives back home…. remembering them as even better than they actually were. Of course it wont live up to our high expectations when we get back! Good luck and with time you will feel right at home again

  26. Everything will fall into its new place. You were changed by travel slowly, and you’ll have to find your new role at home slowly as well.

    For anyone who feels like this longer than two months, it’s okay to seek help. You may have slipped into a depression, and it’s okay to ask for help to get out of it. I slipped into it after studying abroad, and it took a while to beat it.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Wow that is really interesting Erin, I haven’t reached that point yet but good to keep an eye on.

  27. I can totally relate….I came to canada for University. And now I am working in Calgary. Every year I fly back to Hong Kong to visit my family and high school friends. When I hang out with my friends, I feel like the outsider. But I totally get it. They went through alot together. They did stuff together in the last 7 years when I was away.

    The good thing is they still love to spend time with me everytime when I am back. That’s the only thing that keeps me going back.( Me and my family are not close)

    Cheer up! I know it’s hard at the beginning. But it will get better, trust me 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks so much, I know it will change in time. I just need to realize that I can’t go back to what I had, and that’s a good thing.

  28. World Nomad says:

    Nice post! For me it’s the same when coming back to cities where I have lived before. Some things are like when I left but also many things have changed.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I hope this time things have changed for the better, how do you handle it?

  29. I think this is the hardest part about ‘going back’. The segregated feeling with everyone.
    For the two months when I was staying at my parents house, everyday was an agony. For many reasons, I didn’t feel like I belong there and part of it is true I guess.
    I’m happy, traveling and working, but part of me is afraid to go back (if I ever), and the pressure.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I definitely have fears of slipping back into my old life. I have been very purposeful in trying to do things differently. I moved into a new area of the city and am trying to meet new people and do new things so that I don’t go back to what made me unhappy enough to leave 18 months ago.

  30. Cherina | Quiet Wanderings says:

    Your true friends will always have room for you in their lives, Ayngelina. It is so difficult trying to fit back into your old life when you have been away from it and lived an entirely different life for so long. I remember my friends all commenting on how much I had changed…eventually they started seeing it was for the better. Hang in there 🙂

  31. I find it hard to believe that you are jerk. But, to be honest, I often feel the same way about myself. I think I use the living abroad thing as an excuse to not stay as connected with people as I should. But, then again, other people I know have moved on and not stayed connected with me. It just kind of happens… I guess.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There will be some people that I have lost the connection with and I’m not going to force it, I’m hoping there is still opportunity for the people I really care about most.

  32. congratulations on finding your inner jerk! A healthy dose of humility isn’t such a bad thing, embrace it rather than be saddened by it. Whether you had been there or not, some of your friendships would have moved on anyway, certainly my experience. Sometimes you even find that friends you had less in common with before you left end up being the ones you now have shared interests with.

  33. OMG, just read this now. I do! I do! Anytime!

  34. Katherine McKeon says:

    Funny how we often forget that life goes on at home while we travel far away. I am still shocked when I go home that people aren’t lining up at the airport to greet me! Maybe I’m a little self-absorbed…no, couldn’t be. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Your friends will have room for you, hun. They’re your friends!

    This sounds like the common post-travel blues that people get … which I know you’ve had experience with but this kind of thing also occurs when you go home and end up going back to work and seeing all your old friends again.

    I know things will work out for you.

  36. I can relate, I have been staying with a relative as I wait to see where I accept a job overseas and my family and friends from decades ago have their own lives. I have been fortunate to have a couple friends that I have kept in close touch with who have really included me often. Otherwise it can feel lonely at times.

  37. Reg of The Spain Scoop says:

    I know that feeling when I visit home, Oregon, from my now-home, Spain. Nice when it’s for a few weeks because people want to see you, but I’ve always thought that wouldn’t necessarily be the case if I was back for good! Life changes us all. Good luck finding a new place in your old town.

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