Goddamnit, I’m Homesick

I promised myself I’d record the hard times, the lonely times, and the unsexy times so that this life feels just as real and attainable for the next little brown girl.

Today, we’re talking about homesickness. Here I am striking while the feels are hot. 

I like to meditate in the morning. I think my insides try really hard all day to tell me things, but most of the time, I drown them out with distractions like life or work or the internet. (Some may argue that those three things are the same.)

However, I can hear my insides a teensy bit better right when I wake up, before I become fully conscious and give into the daily urge to take my phone and let it take a huge dump on my forehead. (Figuratively. But maybe those are the same, too.)

And so, meditating in the morning is my way of putting a microphone to my chest and asking, “Before I put the usual poison in my eyes and ears, before I go stumbling around today like a drunk baby — what do you have to say, Insides?” When I do that, some sort of visual scene usually comes up in my mind; almost like recalling a picture I’ve taken before.

Today… well. The best way I can describe it is this.

A view of the rice paddies in Udud, Bali where I felt homesick and learned how to deal with homesickness abroad. Sort of.
The obnoxious place where I reflected upon my homesickness at my homestay in Ubud, Bali. I hate me, too.

While my external body might be brown, upright, and enjoying a nice consistent sweat-sheen from Bali humidity, the mental scene that came up was a small, ashy, shriveled up child version of me, huddled in a cave. Potentially sucking my thumb, which I did to self-soothe from ages 2-7. (…Okaylikeage12.)

It wasn’t like coherent thoughts were flowing, necessarily, but the words that floated to mind were homesick, lonely, scared, unnerved. And if that tiny, Gollum-like child-me could talk, she’d be saying:


This is too different. This is too much. Let’s go home.

Let’s go home, where you know how to be safe, where you can get from points A to B without fear of flying off of your motorbike and smearing your body on the hot concrete.

Where you know where the toilet paper is. Where you can tell when someone’s talking shit. Where you can understand most of the conversations in the restaurant.

Where you can eat mountains of Buca di Beppo surrounded by faces you know, faces whose jokes and tics you can predict.

Let’s. Go. Home.

A brown girl with curly hair walking across the Roberts Point Track footbridge near the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand, where I thought about what to do when you're homesick and whether my sad ass is showing homesickness symptoms.
[Insert Boulevard of Broken Dreams lyrics but replace Boulevard with “Rickety Foot Bridge near Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand”]
I think the travel blogging/digital nomad set wants you to believe that we’re fearless adventure warriors, bravely Beyonce bushwhacking through the world 100% of the time. But today, I woke up as a small child in a damp, cold hole who just wanted to go home.

Which is strange, right? I was just ruminating on the overwhelming presence of Westerners in Bali — you’d think that I’d feel, while repelled, somewhat comfortable. But different is different, man. I’m a homestay in a rice paddy, not a hostel. I’m not in New Zealand anymore, and I’m certainly not home.

A photo of a brown skinned girl with curly hair standing on top of a boulder on a beach at the Moeraki Boulders in New Zealand. She's making a bad metaphor about rocks and when travel gets lonely and difficult. Is it working?
I can’t decide between a “rocky” metaphor and a “hard” metaphor because they’re both terrible. (Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand)

Also? I am not on vacation. Last time I was here in Bali, I was on vacation, and I could treat everything like a novel unreality; a fun, adventurous moment in a dream world. I knew I’d be returning to familiarity in a sec, and could eventually look back and go, Whew, that was something! Now, back to shit I understand. 

You know when you’re playing Tag and you’re on base, but you run out for a second just to tempt It, knowing that you can sprint back to base and be okay?

Leaving home three months ago was me sprinting away from base. And it’s moments like these where I look around realize that base is a long-ass ways away. This is my new skin, new faces, new daily bread. The novel, strange and difficult things aren’t so temporary anymore; they’re our new normal.

And sometimes, alla that makes me want to call my goddamn mommy.

A photo of a brown skinned girl with curly hair laying and resting lazy on a couch in front of a window in Christchurch, while housesitting in New Zealand.
Bonus: Another time I was homesick, but didn’t tell you! Here I am dealing with it by napping. Ironically, we were in a home, housesitting. (Christchurch, New Zealand)

But I know that this is okay. (And my privileged first-world ass is certainly not asking for a drop of anyone’s pity.)

I know that moments of transition can suck, and I should be gentle with myself. I know that this is where the work matters and where the growth happens. I know that this is no cause for alarm — I’m simply calling the sky blue, the grass green, and my insides kind of weird right now.

I keep getting distracted while writing this because dragonflies and geckos keep zooming into my peripheral vision. A giant black butterfly careened into the window next to me and whacked its head against the glass continuously, trapped. I got up to release it, watched it zoom away. I thought about change and transformation, and hated myself deeply for being The Most Obvious and Worst, but I had the goddamn thoughts, anyway.

A picture of a laptop and a journal on a table looking out over the rice paddies while working remotely in Ubud as a digital nomad and travel blogger in Bali.
Was gonna take a picture of the butterfly to my left, but I felt like it was watching me, so I swiveled and faked this photo instead?

I will sit in this cave until I don’t have to anymore. I will understand that I’m in a cave so that I can learn how to crawl out. I feel grateful for the chance to work. I feel thankful for the chance to sweat, to fear, to be uncomfortable.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to change, to work towards that exhilaration of travel-given discovery; to run around and tempt fate.

That’s why I left base in the first place, right?

So, in conclusion: It’s fine, y’all. I’m alive, I’m lucky, I’m sad and that is fine.

Because in this cave, I might find what I’m looking for.

A picture of a brown skinned girl with curly hair in an Arcteryx jacket standing in front of The Wanaka Tree #thatwanakatree in Wanaka, New Zealand.
GROWTH, GROWTH, BABY. (#thatwanakatree, Wanaka, New Zealand)


  • Victoria

    Sounds like Your inner critic is working hard to beat you into submission B.
    Often Reflection presents the opportunity for improvement.

    • bernadetteanat

      Exactly this. I have been thinking so much on how unkind/mean/unfair we can be to ourselves without checking our inner critic. Or how much I (and we) set unrealistic expectations for myself (and ourselves). Being nice to yourself is a whole new thing for me. I appreciate that you see that, too!!

      • Victoria

        B, get your hands on a fantastic book called Playing Big by Tara Mohr. It could be perfect timing for you just now.
        If you have time you could look at Susan Jeffers book “Feel the Fear and Do it anyway”

  • Kelsey Stout

    This is so good. Traveling is still life and life just sucks sometimes (even when it doesn’t) because our brains are weird, confusing, unpredictable places. My brain constantly flip-flops between “wow, you are so lucky and privileged to travel” and “Wahhhhhh, take me home.” Good to hear it’s not just me that gets homesick.

    • bernadetteanat

      Yes! That. Traveling is still life, exactly. We’re in the same brainspace and I support you in all of the ups/downs/arounds you feel in ya head.

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