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Return from travels - feeling lonely and empty

  • 02-07-2020 10:53pm
    Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭

    28yo male. Took career break from job to travel the world with a mate.
    Best thing I’ve ever done, cut short because of covid-19 but can’t complain - had an excellent time.

    Spent time chilling in family home after returning which was nice. Now back in Dublin, working in same job as before (except now from home). Live with travel buddy and another friend of ours.

    On paper everything is good - decent job, house, good lads I live with, family all well and healthy during the crisis.

    But I feel pretty empty most days, not sure why. Like I have nothing to do and nothing I want to do.

    I spent months travelling the world, seeing new things and meeting people. It’s obviously a better lifestyle than the standard 9-5, and I didn’t expect to ‘find myself’ or anything - but instead I’m back doing exactly the same as before. Same job, not that many mates, no real interest in doing anything.

    It feels like nothing is enjoyable

    My travel buddy, constant companion for months, started to see a girl a month ago. Happy for him, and she’s absolutely lovely, but (somewhat ashamedly) it gets me a bit down that all his weekends and most evenings are spent with her.
    I know this is ridiculous - he’s doing nothing wrong and in his shoes I’d probably be similar. Maybe not wanting to spend as much time in my company just emphasises that I feel a bit worthless personally (rather than what he actually thinks). Maybe I inadvertently developed semi romantic feelings for him and it’s hard to see him with someone else. I really don’t know...

    I used to be quite career focused. Now since returning to work (and WFH is probably a bit difficult to integrate) I feel a bit disengaged, like I don’t care about the work or the company. They increased my responsibility by putting me as lead on some projects but didn’t promote me. I probably would have jumped up and down previously for the opportunity to prove myself but now I’d happily go back to less responsibility for less stress. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. Of course if I ask for less responsibility I’ll never get promoted!

    Barely anyone texts me. Attempts to arrange meet ups usually get met with rejection (to be fair, not due to lack of interest just people are busy etc).
    Even my “work friends” barely stay in touch since it’s such an effort when we aren’t all in the same building.

    Exercise usually helps clear the mind but I’m struggling with injuries (the joys of running).

    Trying out dating apps but not really getting anywhere. Bit like the friendship point above - the pandemic makes it really hard to meet people and everything is an effort.

    WFH has pros and cons - I thought I’d enjoy the longer evenings but I actually have nothing to do, or even want to do.

    Sorry for the rambling - I haven’t really felt like this in a long while. Nothing is actually wrong, so it’s not like I can even talk (coherently!) to someone about this. It’s just like I’m stuck in a rut, where a bunch of seemingly minuscule insignificant negative thoughts are combining and sucking some of the joy out of me. It doesn’t help that I’m a massive over-thinker as well.

    I’m not too sure what I’m asking for here. I think it helps to attempt to journal my frenzied thoughts! I like to think that I’m a kind person but I get way too caught up in my own head, that I end up thinking strange things - and probably come across to people as hard work, and a bit uncaring.


  • Registered Users Posts: 195 ✭✭twiddleypop

    It is completely normal to feel this way...

    Travelling can open your eyes in a number of ways as much of a cliche as that sounds. I took a trip two years ago and constantly think of the people I met and wonder what they are doing now. I even went to counselling when I came home, just because I felt so depressed afterwards. (not because of the come down, I just saw shocking poverty) Of course you can't really tell anyone how bad you are feeling because you just had a few months off work and lived the dream supposedly.

    The pandemic and wfh is also a massive adjustment... I think some companies are handling it better than others but it can definitely be isolating. I find it useful to make a list everyday of tasks (even the smallest things) to help with motivation. Maybe your priorities career wise have changed. Nothing wrong with that. Climbing the career ladder comes at a cost and nothing wrong with wanting less stress in your life at the moment . A pandemic is stressful enough!

    WFH would obviously be more manageable if you had another social outlet. As things open back up, can you arrange to meet some friends for a pint?

    Aware have an online CBT course which I have found uselful in learning how thought patterns develop and how you can prevent yourself spiralling downwards. Excercise is also the biggest mood booster for me, even if its just a walk. Injuries are an absolute nightmare, especially if running is your outlet. It can be easy not to leave the house for the day and that is bound to have a negative effect over time. Would cycling be something you could do instead? Lower impact and the roads are still fairly quiet.

    I do think that journalling is a good idea and think that you just need to give yourself time to settle back in.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,795 ✭✭✭Mrcaramelchoc

    Did you feel like this at Any time during your travels?

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,867 ✭✭✭duffman13

    Its fairly normal to have the travel blues in a normal environment, with Covid cutting it short and returning to a pandemic environment will definitely make it worse. You say invites are usually met with rejection, in this case start forcing yourself to accept, once your back in the environment meeting people it will feel much better.

    Your travel buddy comment is interesting, did anything happen romantically and this is causing a struggle now? You liked him more than you thought? Something to be conscious of if so.

    I had really bad travel blues when I got home first, felt id cut it short and eventually two years later went again, it helped massively with the feeling of unfinished business but you still get the reality biting when you get back.

    CBT as mentioned by another poster may help however the vast majority of what your feeling is not unique after returning home. Time is a great healer though and as things return to some sort of normality it'll hopefully get easier for you

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,066 ✭✭✭✭fits

    Yep totally normal to get the blues when you return from travel. Its an amazing lifestyle for a time but takes some adjustment when you get back. And then to add to this with the pandemic its hard to connect with people. I found after any stint abroad I lost touch with my social circles and it takes time to build back up again. Its not malice, just people get out of the habit of being in touch with you. Can you get back to the office at all? Is there any outdoor activity you could do now that things are freeing up again?

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,957 ✭✭✭✭Thelonious Monk

    Yeah I used to think travelling was the solution to all my aspirations and needs in the past but when it boiled down to it it wasn't really. All of the new distractions are great but you're still the same person. Wherever you go, there you are etc. So I eventually became equally as despondent wherever in the world I was once the novelty wore off.
    It's up to yourself now to make a life for yourself here.
    You're only 28, so loads of time. You sound similar to myself when I was younger. And it sounds like you need to calm your mind a little maybe.
    I would recommend trying the Headspace app, and reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. These things changed my life.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 152 ✭✭vikings2012

    I find this post very relatable. Was traveling with 2 acquaintances for about 8 months before Covid-19.

    What do you think you could do to change this lonely/empty feeling?

    Do you think a job change or new hobby would help?

    It seems like you placed a significant reliance of your happiness on the relationship with your friend. So I believe it is normal to feel lonely especially now that your friend is preoccupied with his new GF. - I also think this is a normal and common feeling that ppl experience.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,411 ✭✭✭antimatterx

    You need to find a career that excites you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser

    Thanks all for the replies - really appreciate it! It's good to hear others' experiences and to know that these feelings aren't unusual and returning to a pandemic might be exasperating it - as there's less 'happening' to busy myself.
    duffman13 wrote: »
    Your travel buddy comment is interesting, did anything happen romantically and this is causing a struggle now? You liked him more than you thought? Something to be conscious of if so.
    Nothing happened romantically, nor did I want it to. I should point out that I'm gay & he's straight - we've been friends for years before travelling.
    However, not having that many close friends and spending many months together maybe some lines got crossed in my head (?) or I just grew fond of constantly having him around.
    To clarify - this is just an unintentional thought process I have zero expectation of anything happening.

    I am happy for my friend that he's found a nice GF. I feel very guilty for thinking it, but from a selfish point of view I do feel sad that means less time hanging out. Originally when travels cut short we said we might do some weekend trips around Ireland later in the year. Now he will probably want to do that with her - and while I know this is absolutely reasonable - just means there's a bit less for me to look forward to now.

    But yes - something to be conscious of. I suspect it's not very healthy to care so much whether one specific mate is around or not. From that perspective - possibly not ideal we now live together as space would help? Maybe it's also a double hit - the realisation of 'the big trip' being over is finally hitting me now that 'continuing in Ireland' seems less likely. My thoughts are a bit muddled!
    Did you feel like this at Any time during your travels?
    Good question - maybe to a very slight extent, but I put it down to the lack of routine etc. Mostly I was happy, and there were many people to meet and places to see to distract from my overthinking mind :)

    What do you think you could do to change this lonely/empty feeling?
    Do you think a job change or new hobby would help?
    Another good question - I think in the short-term I need to develop some hobbies or something to keep me busy. I need to learn to be happier in my own company - yea I can't really go to the pub by myself but there's loads of other stuff I could do..
    Do you think a job change or new hobby would help?
    You need to find a career that excites you.
    Maybe - I'm only back a few weeks so some of my 'career indifference' (which wasn't really an issue before travel) is possibly a combination of WFH, the state of my mind, been given extra responsibility. I don't live for my job but I don't dread it too much either - it's grand.