Until that day, in the past year I haven’t seen one of my family members once. Being someone who is indescribably close with her parents and siblings, this was a big step in the right direction in my early twenties, having now graduated college and with a desire to step out and create a life for myself outside of what I know.
Although I have only been home for a few days, many people have been quick to ask what it feels like ‘being back’.
My heart kind of sank a little, I forge a smile and politely claim “it’s great!”. But it’s not because it isn’t great – it is. South-Africa is one of the most beautiful places I have found myself out of all my travels, my family and friends are incredibly hospitable and caring, and I can’t describe how fond I am of all the local places like Spur, Ocean basket and the list continues.
This year living in two counties in Europe has sparked a change in me that I can’t quite put my finger on. But for whatever reason, home doesn’t feel like home anymore – at least not right now.
Whilst it was never an easy feat setting off to move to the other side of the world solo.
There are many things this year living in Europe at 21 years of age has been about, but finding myself or running away from my troubles has never been one of them.
(Sure, I changed a lot in the past 12 months and slowly but surely evolved into the happiest, most confident and collected version of myself to date.)
Rather, I’d like to think this year has been about creating myself.
The day I booked my one-way ticket to London departing at the beginning of this year after I completed my 2 College diploma’s. On a day where I was supposed to feel like I completed and achieved something from my tertiary education, a day of perceivable certainty, I couldn’t have felt any more confused by the whole ordeal. Lost? No. Okay, maybe a little. But more confused? Yes.
This past year has taught me a lot about myself and others around me. It has taught me to be patient. It has taught me to be kind to others, especially those who can do nothing for me. It has taught me to be understanding of others, even if their beliefs, traditions and cultures. It has taught me to be open and embrace every offering of help, which a stubborn person like me is very unlikely to accept.
Coming home feels like a complete contradiction. On the one hand it brings me indescribable joy to see my family and friends after a year without them, hearing their voices and just being in their presence.
But on the other hand it is completely overwhelming how little has changed. How little everything has changed… but me.
I’m no longer the sheltered, insecure and indecisive 21 year old that left one year ago. For starters I’ve added another year to my running tally… but the change I have experienced in the past year runs much deeper than any number. It’s in the way I look at things. Its in the way I perceive my reality and that of others. Its in the way I read, write and speak.
Change is often a scary thing when considered as a distant ideal or something you wish to achieve. But when you take a look back at how much change has occurred within yourself over a period of time, there could not possibly be a more comforting feeling.
For the rest of my life I can always go home, but I’m in my early 20’s, there is no better time than now to explore the world, and myself.
Home doesn’t feel like home, at least for now…
written by Carla West”
That being said, the only thing that changed is that after 4 years of traveling is that home is home now, I do not plan on moving anywhere anytime soon. I feel at peace here and that I lived my life to the fullest in Europe. Everything that little 21 year old dreamed of, I did and achieved in Europe and I hope I made her very proud.