culture shock: i'm not a missionary anymore

8:16 PM

I was so scared to walk down that escalator. I hadn't seen my friends or family for a year and a half. What would that be like? Would they be different? Would it be awkward? Would they care? Never mind that I'd been having recurring dreams about my family completely forgetting me. In the last 4 months of my mission, I had AT LEAST ten dreams of me going home, arriving at the airport to be greeted only by my mom and a simple, "Okay, get in the car, let's go home." Me: "Oh, okay, well, are we going to see Brooke [my sista] soon?" "Nah... she's busy. You can go home and sleep." "Okay, well, what do you want to know about my mission!" "You know, Lauren, I'm kind of tired... how about another day, yeah?"

I'm sure that my mom would like me to clarify that this is in no way an accurate representation of what actually happened when I arrived in SLC. Obviously, everyone was very excited to see me. I mean, come on. It's me.

But really, coming home is great. It's awesome to see your family and your best friends. I love my family more than anything in the world. I had missed my niblings so much and after seeing their faces and their cute hand-made signs (seriously, my niece Maddie slaved over that baby) I immediately abandoned my fear at the top of that escalator. I was leaving behind a lot of great memories and relationships in Japan. But the relationships I had waiting for me are precious. Everything was great.

But if you know anything about missions, you'll know that missionary life and not-missionary life are completely different.

On a mission, you wake up everyday at 6:30 and go to bed at 10:30.
On a mission, you can't watch TV. Or movies. Or listen to Katy Perry despite how much you may sing it on a daily basis.
On a mission, you do the same thing everyday. Your schedule is cut out for you. You know your purpose.
On a mission, though the days blend together, every day is an adventure, a blessing, and a growing experience.
On a mission, you have to wear skirts every day.
On a mission, you're stuck with a companion to work with 24/7. You can never be alone.
On a mission, life is rewarding, you're part of a good cause, and you get to help people.

A lot of people are teasing me that I'm adjusting really quickly. I thrive on transition and change. I was nervous to come home and face these changes, but I knew that it was the next step for me. So I'm cool. But that's not to say that I don't have my moments.
The first time I was alone was when I was walking down the street to visit my friend Beth just one day after I got home. She lives less than a block away. It was about 11:00 at night. I was halfway to her house when I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. I WAS ALONE. IT WAS PAST CURFEW. THIS WAS SERIOUSLY A SUPER DANGEROUS SITUATION. I CAN'T WALK DOWN THE STREET BY MYSELF.

A few weeks later, I hung out with my last companion Julie (I'm working really hard on calling her that) (she came home the same day as me) along with some girls visiting from Japan. Even though I'd gotten used to wearing pants, driving by myself, and getting my Katy Perry on again, I had a moment. And I got super confused. I was with an old companion... I was speaking Japanese... What were we doing at the mall and why we were "wasting our time" (as there is always a schedule to keep on the mish) looking at lotions in Bath & Body Works?  That's not what missionaries do. This goes for a lot of things. I watch sit on a couch watching TV and I feel like I'm missing out on saving the world, or something. Since missionaries and superheroes are basically on the same level.

Some days I just wake up and realize that I'm not a missionary anymore. And that's hard. It's so hard to come home and have all of these high expectations for what your "RM-life" will be like. Every missionary thinks about going home and what it will be like more often than good missionaries would like to admit. I sure thought about it. I thought about the person I wanted to be, I thought about the life I wanted to have. I thought about how I would change and how I would use my time well. But then you come home and reality doesn't always equal the ideals you set for yourself. I don't wake up early, I don't get as much accomplished as I want, and I don't have purpose like I did in the mission field. No one wants to worry about cars and jobs and school and money and marriage and dating and friends and housing and...

But then I just remind myself that no one gets to tell me when to stop being a missionary. Japan changed me and I'm not going to forget it. Sometimes you still miss it, though.
Also, I love my BFFs. And their significant others. #awkwardfifthwheel #goodthingimsupercool

Part 2 in a series. Read here for part 1. Stay tuned for more this week!

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5 comments

  1. I think it's cool that you are writing about this stuff, because you never hear about it very often, but they are things that all missionaries experience. I like reading about it, thanks :D

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  2. I'm glad you like it! It's prolly pretty boring to most people. But I like writing it all out. :) Thanks for reading!

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  3. Love you, and love this post. And glad that there are finally at least 3 pictures of us in existence again. I can't say that I know how you feel, but I'm always here for you. #whitepicketfenceshinyredmustangforever

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  4. This is cool. You are cool. Ha, it's weird how familiar it all sounds. :) I think you're doing awesome.

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