Your post-vacation self

I’ve had the opportunity to travel quite a bit in the nearly two years in my current job, but haven’t taken off an entire week to do so… until just recently, when I left a snowy, cold Baltimore/Washington area for sunny Arizona and mild Oregon. Most of my time was spent visiting and connecting with family and other loved ones, along with an ample dose of exploration of Phoenix, Portland, and the Cascade Mountains due to a rather treacherous drive over the high-elevation pass to Central Oregon.

The trip filled my heart.

The trip, however, did not fill my bank account (rather, the opposite. Huh.) so I had to drag myself to the Portland airport at 3:30 a.m. to fly back to BWI in order to get back to my 9-to-5 tomorrow. Monday.

I was tempted to give this post a travel theme and discuss how to make use of limited amounts of time off to travel domestically. More relevant to my focus of this blog, I was also tempted to write this post about the role of choice in one’s attitude. My attitude certainly verged on foul as I waited for my breakfast sandwich and Americano at a connecting airport  and thought of all the reasons why I was not excited to return home (for example, Monday’s 5 a.m. alarm, crowded subway commutes, and a much more limited supply of northwest IPA at my disposal).

But why I felt meh at best, and how that feeling coincided with the end of a vacation feels more important. This trip was lovely, and I’d love for the opportunity to extend it another few days. But at some point, barring unusual circumstances, many of us need to go home, return to the life we’ve created (or the life that’s happened upon us).

Barring thoughts of the inconveniences that we contend with in our normal lives (like alarm clocks), how you feel about the life you’re returning to after a vacation can be revealing.

I expect a tremendous amount of personal and professional change by the end of the year, some of which I’m very impatient to see (how’s that for vague?). Flying back home reinforced for me that change in the form of moving (where is TBD) and new professional opportunities (what exactly this will be is another TBD) is coming, and while exciting, I’m feeling troubled by the current unsettled state of my life. I’m also having a hard time currently living so far away from many loved ones.

Contrast this with my return from two weeks in South America during the winter break of my second year of a two-year graduate program. The only thing that stood between me and graduation were two classes and a thesis, and I was ready to go full throttle to complete my program and run as far away from the grad school experience as I could.

I’ve known that I’m looking forward to new opportunities that are sure to spring up for my partner and I soon, but returning home to a life I’m not completely comfortable with has refreshed this perspective for me. I’m thinking about what I want to change, what I can change, and what I simply need to be patient with.

How do you feel at the conclusion of a particularly great vacation?

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