4 Steps to Integrating a Changed Values System to Your Return Home
If you’ve volunteered or done missionary work overseas it is likely you adapted to a very different lifestyle than the one you grew up in. Perhaps it was simpler, you owned less, and were judged by different standards, including how you adapt to a different lifestyle. You may have found it liberating – to have fewer things, focus on relationships, etc. When you return, you enter a society that may have a very different definition of success. How do you integrate your values and assessments back to your home society – how do you manage your expectations and determine a way forward?
“When I returned home from a year of volunteering in India, where I lived in a two bedroom apartment with 12 other women, and worked for a program focused on simple living, I found the U.S. daunting. In response to my simple living experiences, where I could make do with three or four sets of clothing, I returned to a full closet and decided to donate nearly all my clothing, leaving myself with what felt like an abundant five outfits. My mother warned against it, noting that it didn’t make sense in the U.S. Nonetheless, I was committed to my decision to implement a more simple life. Soon after, that October in Ohio, I realized why I needed more clothes – my summer, fair-weather clothes, that were more or less reasonable year-round in southern India were not going to hold up in a Midwestern winter. I took two lessons away – (1) my mother is always right and (2) what it meant to live simply in the U.S. was rather different than what it meant in India. It made me more thoughtful in digging deeper to understand the values that I wished to apply and how to do that in a way that was adapted to home.”
One of the challenges of reintegrating back home is that your values may have changed; this is what makes it so challenging to engage with your friends and family from before you left. It also makes it hard for you to determine a way forward, you’ve changed, and that requires evaluation, thoughtfulness, kindness, and self-assessment to reintegrate in a meaningful way that carries forward your experiences, while adapting to home – after all sleeveless tunics don’t really work in freezing snow.
So, how to go about it?
List out the things that matter to you. If you are past the honeymoon phase of your adjustment, list out what you love and what has been really frustrating to come back to.
Identify why you like/dislike things. What does it tell you about what you value and how your perceptions have changed?
Once you understand what you value and can identify it, figure out what parts of that you can incorporate into your life. What did it look like when you were away? What might it look like now that you are back? What will have to adjust due to the climate or geography or culture or availability at home?
Go forth and act!
While we make it sound simple doing the self-reflection can be difficult. Nextpat provides activities to guide this reflection in its course as well as one-on-one coaching to walk you through the process for your specific circumstances. Contact us for more information or to schedule either the course or a coaching session.
Best of luck!