I’ve officially been home from my mission for five weeks. Nuts, right? Yeah. In the last five weeks, the number one most frequently asked question I’ve gotten from almost every person I’ve spoken to is this (or some version of it): What’s it like being home? Is it weird?
Admittedly, being home hasn’t been nearly as bad as I expected. For the last several months of my mission, I nearly broke out in a sweat every time I imagined waking up my first day home. Alone? In my own bed? With no studies or lessons or appointments the whole day? Purposeless and lazy? 1,500 miles from Anaheim? Then, I woke up that day, and the world didn’t explode and I didn’t burst out into tears and I realized that I might just make it through this after all.
But, for all you who are still wondering, these are the things that have been the weirdest about being back in the “real” world:
- I am incapable of dressing myself as a normal person. I don’t really know how to get dressed if the outfit doesn’t include a skirt. As a missionary, I got real sick real fast of wearing the same clothes all the time, but after a while, it was kind of nice because getting dressed took neither time nor effort. And it didn’t really matter what I looked like, either. Now, I have my wardrobe back but I don’t know how to use it. Usually, I just end up wearing sweats and a t-shirt, and I am kind of a fan of that, but it will be a rude awakening when I have a job and school and have to look somewhat less disheveled. Sunday is always a bit of a relief because I know how to clothe myself then.
- Frequently as I fall asleep at night, I ask myself if I updated the teaching records for the day.
- Driving is a bit uncomfortable. First off, I haven’t driven anything but a Corolla for 18 months. Also, now I don’t have to worry about finding the shortest routes so we don’t go over on our monthly mileage allotment. But, no longer do I have a magic credit card in the glove box that pays for my gas. That one I miss. The hardest habit to kick though has been safety backing. Since the Church spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each month repairing their cars that missionaries have backed into poles and walls and posts, one companion must be outside the car whenever it is in reverse to help direct the driver. Now whenever I’m riding shotgun, I feel sinful if I get into the car before the driver has backed out. And when I go anywhere, I still park far away so I can get a pull-through spot even though I don’t need to be backed out anymore.
- Probably a habit acquired from writing 78 missionary related emails home to family, but when I am typing and I want to write a word that starts with an “e,” it almost assuredly will come out “elder” before I even realize what I am typing.
- I think I almost developed an alter-ego as a missionary, because “Hermana Poulson” became who I was. Yeah, I guess this “Jesslyn” character was also me, but not really, and now I kind of miss Hermana Poulson.
- I talked on the phone more in the first 7 days home than I did in 7 months as a missionary. I’m not much of a phone talker, but I got so many calls (from people I really did want to talk to, if it wasn’t for the fact that I detest talking on the phone). I couldn’t hand off the phone to a companion, and these conversations tended to be longer than 15 seconds because I wasn’t just confirming a dinner appointment or a lesson.
- I just want to speak Spanglish. My mission was in reality more Spanglish speaking than anything and Spanish phrases wormed their way into my everyday speech. You mean I can’t say, “¡Claro que si!” or “¡càllate!” or “vente para aca” or “de verdad” and have people understand what I’m telling them? I’m not trying to be obnoxious or show off my cool foreign language skills (because I don’t really have any) but these phrases seem as natural to me now as ones in English. Also, the other Spanish sisters and I got in the bad habit of calling each other “mi niña” or “mi corazón” or “mi hijita,” and I have to stop myself from adding them on to the end of nearly every sentence I say.
Then, there’s things that I thought would be weird, or other people told me would be weird that have been good.
- Maybe I’m unrighteous, but it took no time at all for me to get used to listening to the “music of Babylon.” No, that was really easy to adjust to. About a month of Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the mission was all I could stomach. Seventeen months later, I felt nauseated anytime I heard “Come Thou Fount.”
- Being alone is kind of nice. I adore every one of my companions, but being around another person literally 100% of the time for a year and half can be a bit taxing. Some people told me that it was terrifying to be alone in their first weeks home, and while it was a bit strange at times, it was rather enjoyable to leave a room and not have to make sure someone else was coming with me. Or go to a store and not worry about being able to see my companion in the next isle.
In short, yes, it’s been quite an adjustment not being a missionary, but it’s been good, too. I’m so grateful for my mission and it is without question the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I miss it like it’s nobody’s business. If you’re thinking about a mission, I have to say that I recommend it.