I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed!” he snorted. “Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something. Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

Let’s you and I go to a place of being real.

A place of trust.

I need to trust that you won’t think of me as simply being stuck in pity. Confusion. That I just want sympathy.

I need to trust that you won’t think I require anything of you; I don’t begin this post with a list of expectationsIf you have been following my writing then you will have heard me mention my need to write in order to process life. So I also begin this post from a place of simply needing to process what I am feeling.

I publish this because I know that there are some reading it who have experienced the same.

I arrived back in Kansas last Saturday. For a full account of that particular adventure refer to my previous post, “Dorothy Got Lucky with The Tornado: A 78-Hour Journey Back To Kansas”. 

I spent six days at my parent’s house in Manhattan and the following Saturday those same parents helped move the immense cultivation of necessary apartment items down to Emporia.

This past weekend, then, was spent unpacking and decorating with my brilliant new flatmate and her magical entertaining boyfriend. Which is fun. You know, moving and decorating and snuggling in…those types of safe, exciting changes are, well, exciting.

Distractingly exciting.

But then I had to come back to Manhattan on Monday morning to participate in an activity that may be the absolute bane of my existence: a dentist appointment. 

Friends who might become dental hygienists in the future:

We can either have a kickass conversation about life, OR we can deep-clean-wth-a-saw my teeth. We cannot do both. 

Maybe expect a separate blog post on the Dentist Appointment, because I’ve got a lot to say about those.

This activity was shortly followed by Things-I-Hate-Most-in-Life’s runner-up, the Bank. Last year‘s banking experiences were awful, I have no reason to believe it will ever get better. And honestly I am never disappointed.


Being back in Kansas is a wake-up call. Suddenly my days are filled with driving to the dentist, driving to the bank, driving to go update my driver’s license. Dealing with scholarship and loans, buying textbooks for school, buying supplies, buying apartment necessities, buying permits and passes. Did I mention I have pretty much zero money?  There’s a lot of life admin that has had to happen this past week before I can move to Emporia.

Which doesn’t improve the whole “adjusting process” that is trying to take place.

I have been living in an alternate Universe this past year.

Yeah, the beginning of living in Austria kind of sucked: getting residency paperwork taken care of, figuring out the culture, having to meet new people, being out of my comfort zone. But after all of that passed–after the first month, really–then my life was filled with 3 days of Uni and 4 days of non-stop adventures.

Filled with turkish market 1 euro avocado-and-bread lunches, late-night kebab with friends, outdoor concerts and performances, brilliant flatmates, a close-by train station and close-by countries. Not to mention pleasant weather (i.e. not saturated with humidity and bugs).

Now this has been replaced by the dentist and bank. Two things about America that drive me nuts.

It’s a negative outlook, but everything that the people around me are doing feels meaningless. I stand in line at the grocery store and overhear the people behind me complaining about how “well, the sprinklers aren’t as powerful nowadays, my lawn is not as emerald green as it was last summer!” and “Last night Russell and I were watching   Late Night on our massive expensive DVR and the recording cut out 5 minutes before the end!”

These stupid complaints are then shortly followed by a sympathetic sign of exasperation and a, “Well, now, that really sucks!”

I’ve returned home with different priorities. And I feel dissonance because of this: I am simultaneously way more strong-willed with my beliefs and also more empathetic to the point where I realize my new priorities and beliefs are not wholly welcome here. Or beneficial.

No one wants to hear that I think their complaints are needless.

I feel stuck-up and arrogant. Like I am declaring myself to be superior because, well, lived in Europe for a year, so “obvi” I am better than you narrow-minded Kansan.

I am trying to reign myself in. To remind myself that I am young and basically anyone who is older actually does know more simply on the grounds that they have lived longer. They have done more life than I; I need to give them some credit for that.

But I am young, and you know us millennials: I sometimes sincerely believe I know everything.

I am digressing: this is not a blog post to justify my negative feelings. This is a post written as a reminder to stop judging myself. 

You look back up there, and you can see judgement, can’t you? Palpable judgment?

Yeah. That’s why I am writing this.

I think that is one of the first things that needs to happen in order to move forwards from this past year. I need to let go of judgement. I need to let myself simply feel whatever it is I am feeling, without trying to label it and cap it.

Last night was rough.

I don’t feel like I belong in this Kansas world.

After my parents came and picked me up from the airport and then drove me home back to Manhattan, one of the first things I did was shower. Because God-knows how many people died in the presence of my smelly aura during those last couple of flights.

I took a shower, and then–as my suitcase was still in the car with all of my clothes–I picked through my Kansas-Josie closet for something into which to change.

It was weird. Seriously weird.

I didn’t remember owning any of these clothes, and most of them fit me wrong. My “fashion style”–if one could dare call it that–has changed over this past year.

So here I was…looking into the mirror on my wall. Not having looked into a full-length mirror in a month. Wearing someone else’s clothes. Trying not to cry in my state of extreme jet-lag.

I felt like my entire room back “home” was not mine but Kansas-Josie’s and I was a visitor.

I am different. I am thankful for this, because it would be even worse if nothing had changed, but nevertheless it has rendered me feeling like I don’t belong here.

Last night was rough.

I sobbed myself to sleep; there are still forty snotty tissues all over the floor. It was ugly crying, too. Like, Josie gasping for air because her nose was so clogged kind of crying.

I am sad. That’s kind of what it comes to.

Initially, I was labeling it: I am sad to be in Kansas. I am sad because it’s hot and humid and if I go outside than the mosquitos murder me. I am sad because my hair is SUPER frizzy and attacking every facial orifice. I am sad because I feel unprepared for everything here. 

When I attached justifications and qualifiers like that, suddenly immense amounts of anxiety arose. I can’t control that I am in Kansas right now. I can’t control the humidity or the bugs. I can’t control my RAGING INSANE hair.

And when I feel entirely out of control like that I get really anxious. Which is a pretty human condition.

We’re told that there is a hierarchy of emotions, right? That happy and excited and motivated are close to the top and acceptable forms of feeling. And sad, angry, miserable are at the bottom of the acceptability ladder.

How many times have you been told, “It’s okay, don’t be sad!”; “Don’t get angry…”; “Don’t be anxious!”? I’m betting loads. If not by other people, than by yourself.

What does this lead to?

I get more angry that I’m angry.

I get more sad that I’m sad.

I get more anxious that I’m anxious.

So point being: I’m sad. That is what I am feeling. And I want to be sad. Not forever, not for much longer even. Just for now. Just for a little bit.

Being sad doesn’t mean that I am being a bummer. Or that I am simply “throwing myself a pity party”. Or that there is anything wrong with me.

It’s okay to feel like I don’t belong. It’s okay to sit with that emotion and feel it out.

When my feelings “turn south”, my go-to is to simply distract myself, right? Watching movies, playing games with friends, drinking, reading, being on the internet, buying new toys.

Then those “negative” feelings just get buried and trapped and smothered.

So I am going to make a linguistic change. There aren’t things as “negative” or “positive” emotions: there are, perhaps, desirable and undesirable emotions. Feelings you would rather be feeling and things you would rather not feel.

Whatever I am feeling is justified simply because I am feeling it. To deny it it’s chance to breathe and be exposed and discovered is doing myself a serious disservice.

Accepting myself–every stinking part of myself–is the first way for me to regain my sense of belonging.

It was an intense year. I’m not going to add stupid happy-ending things like “but this year is going to EVEN BETTER!” because I want to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation.


Peace and Blessings,





3 Comments on “Being Back: Uncut

  1. Welcome back Josie!
    Though I can relate to the frustration it can be of returning to a country where such first world problems are found in almost every conversation. You’ve had the incredible opportunity to learn and grow and experience another culture that few of us have had, and I know you are cherishing those encounters and beautiful days and wondrous nights. I know the feeling of returning from an immersive lifestyle overseas back to the states and it seems that everyone else has such a narrow worldview and perspective, and that is 100% not fun to navigate. Everything is different and few people understand, but it’s okay. You have permission to bask in the wonder of all that you have witnessed, all that you have felt, all those things that have cultivated in you a sense that there is more out there.
    Welcome back, lovely soul, but know you are forever altered and that is a glorious thing .


  2. What’s up, this weekend is pleasant in favor of me, for the
    reason that this time i am reading this enormous educational article here at my home.


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