Quite a few years ago I returned to Melbourne after a student exchange placement in Sarawak. It had been jungle walks, laksa and a cursory glance at some text books for the best part of six months.
When I got home I suffered a terrible bout of reverse culture shock that took me by surprise. As soon as I got off the plane I was annoyed by everything. The immigration and customs officials at the airport was so Aussie, as though hired right out of Summer Bay – blonde spiky hair and bouncy ponytails. The voice over on the airport bus boasted about “Melbourne’s secret lane ways and bars”. The meal sizes in restaurants were so HUGE. Who on earth needed to eat so much in one sitting? Everyone seemed so insular and self-satisfied.
The worst thing though…all anyone would talk about was real estate and renovations. UGH! What happened to people being interesting?
I’ve just had three weeks away from the office and I spent that time at home, unpacking and decorating my new apartment. It didn’t even cross my mind to take an international (or even domestic) holiday. I pottered around and tested paint samples on the bathroom wall.
Reflecting on how much has changed in the last decade, it’s not so much the nesting that surprises me, but that I allow myself to enjoy it. That I feel OK about being someone who cares about real estate and renovations. I don’t take it very seriously. It actually feels like a hobby – something I do for the joy of it (and I really do derive joy from arranging furniture).
My 20s were filled with adventure and fun and expansion. I felt so overwhelmed by everything I didn’t know, but I was sure I wanted to keep travelling and adventuring and not becoming someone who talks about real estate and renovations. Now, to the great surprise of my younger self, my 30s are shaping up to be filled with a lot more peaceful moments of joy than I ever experienced in the jungles of Borneo and most of them are happening right at home.