The recent demonstrations from Extinction Rebellion have been quite a talking point in our house this year. My husband took part in the big one in London in April, but couldn’t make it in October. We love what it stands for and yet question the timing of it this time round, just as Brexit is the top of the agenda in the UK.
As with all large organisations, there are things which are good and not so great about the way they function. One of many things they do well is looking after their rebels. They have well-being policies and recommend debriefs for the days after rebellions. They also talk about the return home, which strikes me as very similar to re-entry from another country. In the “Regenerative Action” cycle, they talk about the seasons, which led me to thinking about re-entry seasons.
Here are some musings on what the seasons could equate to in our re-entry journey:
Summer can be equated to the season of being involved in your host country. Of belonging, thriving, flowering and producing fruit. This is where many people are by the time they leave, and it may have taken some years to get to that point. For some, it is also a high point in terms of language acquisition, cultural adjustment and therefore ease of fitting and being in that country.
Of course there are many people for whom that description of ease and well-being doesn’t fit towards the end of their time overseas, and I want to acknowledge that. But let’s just ride with the metaphor for a moment.
Autumn / Fall
There comes a time when you move on. The leaves that have served you so well, given you status and formed your outward shape need to fall, to be dropped. It is time for change, for goodbyes, for a gradual stripping down.
Leaving your host country and starting afresh in your home country are a bit like this. It is the re-entry season of leaving people and places behind; taking away familiar landmarks and cultural cues. All is laid bare and left at your feet, while you wonder what the point was, or why they needed to be shed.
Feeling naked when in the midst of reverse culture shock is a common experience – that feeling that everyone can see right through you and see that you haven’t got a clue. Watching more cracks appear in your own facade as more of what you thought you knew becomes more transitory and irrelevant.
And then comes the winter of not-knowing. Your leaves have been shed, but the new ones have not yet emerged. You don’t know where you’re going, or where you’re going to end up. Or possibly how you’re going to get there. You feel a bit adrift, like the real you is covered up with snow and you don’t know how to take the layers off.
Winter can feel quite barren, and like it’s never going to end. You can get signs of spring and hope that things are changing but then suddenly plunge back into the depths again with little warning.
However long the winter has been – and it can be several years in re-entry season timings – spring will come. It always does. You can trust the cycle of life.
I always find it amazing to look at trees during the winter and see just how much growth is going on even when they are covered in snow and ice. The shed leaves provide much-needed nutrients to the tree and it starts to put out new buds, getting ready for the spring. You often don’t notice the growth and change going on under the surface during the winter. But rest assured, it is there. Your body, mind and spirit are getting ready for the spring.
Spring: New buds, flowers, greater warmth. A time for new beginnings and finding your way once again. Things that have been fomenting over the winter are coming good and are starting to blossom.
Spring is a time of hope. It doesn’t all come at once – some things blossom before others. Everything in its own time.
The cycle of re-entry seasons
And so the cycle completes itself. You are back in a season of flourishing and thriving. Of being settled and familiar with your new shape. Different to your old shape, but you nonetheless.
Here are some other posts to help you out according to the season you are in:
- Autumn – Finishing well, Endings, Debriefing
- Winter – Time to experiment, After the honeymoon, Re-entry is exhausting
- Spring – Imagining new adventures
- Summer – hmmm, people don’t normally need help with this season!!
If you would like some help to navigate through your re-entry seasons, please do get in touch.
22nd October 2019