How often during re-entry do you find yourself mulling over the great things about the country you just left? It has to be better than being in your home country and this re-entry lark, right? We all have a tendency to put on rose-tinted glasses when it comes back to thinking about our host country.
The weather was so much better (sorry, I am British after all!), the people much more friendly, we had deeper relationships, we got to see the world, etc. And yet we forget the stuff that was really tough. We forget our struggles with the language; our cultural faux-pas; the everyday living which took so long; the distance from grandparents; the noise; the toilets; and the adjustments we went through to try to belong.
Why do we do this? The grass is always greener. If you’re going through a tough time, which for most people, re-entry is, then you will always seek out another time, another place where life was better / easier.
Painting pictures of Egypt
Sara Groves wrote a great song, Painting pictures of Egypt, about this very thing – our tendency to look back to the familiar instead of forward. It’s based around the Israelites leaving Egypt and heading into the wilderness aiming for the Promised Land.
In some ways, that is what you do in re-entry. Leave somewhere known and understood, and move out into a wilderness of chaos. You are on your way to the Promised Land, but in chaos nevertheless, in that leaving / arriving / settling middle ground of transition. The irony of the Israelites looking back to Egypt and thinking it was amazing is of course that they were slaves there, so not all that they made it out to be once they’d left. Not that you were a slave in your host country, but there were tough things about being there which you can conveniently forget.
“I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard
And I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me
Cannot hold the things I’ve learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned”
Check the song out on the link above. It helped me so much during one re-entry to understand how much I’d put on my rose-tinted glasses and was making our past location seem much easier than it really had been.
What is the reality for you? Spend some time writing down the good things about your host country – and then the challenging / more difficult / stressful things about being there. And do the same for your passport country. What are you grateful for where you are now? What do you not miss from where you were?
I don’t want to minimise the joys of your host country. They are definitely worth holding on to. And I don’t want to belittle the challenges you face now as you re-adjust. However, when you are struggling in re-entry it is worth thinking of the flip-side too. And practising gratitude for what you have now, in this moment. Where do you need to intentionally take your focus away from “Egypt” and take off the rose-tinted glasses? What are the good things in your life right now?
15th May 2018