It’s Day 25 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here. Don’t forget to subscribe!
When I graduated from high school I knew I wanted to go abroad again.
I wasn’t really sure what to study and somehow the wide world out there seemed to draw me so much more than a German university.
While I was looking for offers and countries to go I received an email from a friend in Uganda: “We’re short staffed in the rehabilitation center at the moment and could really need some help. We are too stressed out to introduce someone completely new to the work, so it would be great to have someone who knows the culture, the language, the people, and the work. Why don’t you come back?”
There it was.
The door I had waited to open for years.
The door I had been pounding on in dark phases of homesickness, yearning to go back to Uganda.
But now it was different.
I didn’t want to go back.
Being so close to going “home” and living the dream all over again seemed scary and overwhelming out of a sudden.
You want to know why?
Well, back then I guess I couldn’t really explain it.
Now I have studied quite a bit, grown a bit older, and wrote my MA thesis on nostalgia. Looking back at past times, homes, friends…and leaving them there.
Saving a frozen perfect image of the past in your head, holding it close to your heart to warm yourself whenever the seemingly cold present seems to strangle you.
So when I look back I see the green nature surrounding our house.
The endless trips we took into the rain forest.
I hear the laughter of my friends.
I remember being happy.
Of course I was.
But my heart seems to leave out the moments of loneliness and despair.
It doesn’t remember the spiders and roaches, the power cuts, or any other negative memory.
Nostalgic looking back is filtered.
Back then I wasn’t ready to let this bubble of perfection I had made up in my mind burst. I wanted to preserve Uganda in the positive way I had put it together.
Now I think a little different.
I am not saying we should give up nostalgia altogether.
The missing part and longing for people/places/past emotions might always be there.
But it shouldn’t shape how we remember and create a fake image of something that could never exist that way.
We might have to let some of our bubbles burst.
Maybe visit the place where we grew up to refine our picture and strengthen the good memories.
This is a topic dear to my heart and I researched quite a bit on it for my MA thesis.
Some short excerpts and findings you can read here or here.
If you have any questions, let me know. Would love to hear your thoughts on this!