A Life of Decadence

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?

  1. List out th