This blog is part of our #WhatsNext series for former volunteers, inspired by the What’s Next Notebook resource from Catholic Volunteer Network and Catholic Apostolate Center. In each blog, we will explore helpful tips for looking back on your volunteer experience, saying goodbye, determining your next steps, and sustaining your spiritual growth during the transition to “life after volunteering.”
“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” – Robert Frost
“Where thou art, that is home.” – Emily Dickinson
“There’s no place like home.” – L. Frank Baum
“Your true home is in the here and now.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
After your year of service, the word “home” probably has a new meaning for you. Whereas home was once a specific place, it now is an experience of being unconditionally loved and accepted. You are returning to your friends and family as a changed person, hopefully a better version of the person you were before. It may be challenging to ease back into life at the moment, but take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Many volunteers are going through this same transition with you. Here are some tips to make the transition a bit easier.
Tips for Transitioning Home
Slow down. After volunteering for a year or more, you may feel additional pressure to figure out your next steps as soon as possible. With student loans and other financial obligations pending, it is likely that you will be anxious to move forward. Take a deep breath and remember to give yourself the time you need to make decisions with a clear mind.
Give yourself the gift of time. Many volunteers in 2020 had their service year interrupted by the current pandemic. Has this also been the case for you? If so, go slowly and try to give yourself ample time now for reading, reflecting, listening to music, and other activities that will help you feel centered.
Make space for prayer. Be intentional about prioritizing time for prayer and reflection during this period of transition. This quiet time will keep you centered and focused as you discern your next steps.
Be patient with your family. They probably haven’t undergone the same personal journey—and may not be used to the new you! It will take some time for them to understand your new perspectives and priorities.
Keep your language skills sharp. Many missioners who serve internationally are able to learn a new language during their time abroad. After a year or two of getting used to this new language, it may seem an abrupt change to go back to speaking English all the time. You will find plenty of opportunities to volunteer your language skills listed on Idealist.org.
Get cooking. A good meal with friends or family goes a long way to rekindle relationships and can be a great opportunity to share stories about your time of service. You probably learned a new recipe or two while serving, so why not share your culinary expertise with your friends and family at home!
Loving God, I offer up this prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of home. Thank you for creating for me the places where I can return to experience unconditional love and acceptance. Where I can be my true self.
As I make this transition, I pray that I will always remember the care and hospitality extended to me. And grant me a generous heart that prompts me to open my home to those I meet along the journey.
Thank you for diving into our #WhatsNext series! Next week, we will explore the theme of Telling Your Story, in which we will discuss tips for processing your service experience through speaking with others in private or in public.
Be sure to register and receive all our resources for former volunteers, including the What’s Next Notebook and our Weekly Job Bank, by clicking here!