It had been eleven years since the last time I stepped foot in Turkey.
Somewhere along the way, I decided that I wasn’t worthy of returning home.
Part of me felt that I wasn’t worthy of seeing my family until I could prove that my work and life have value.
Until I could make them proud.
Because I’ve taken an unconventional approach to my life and my career, I had some missteps.
I failed a lot, but at some point, I felt that I couldn’t explain away my failures until I had an undeniable amount of success.
But it turns out, all I needed to do was be a good person and show up.
Well, I had to show up and be vulnerable.
“Hello, have we met? This is who I am now.”
It’s scary to show up with your scars in a place where you feel whole and wholly misunderstood at the same time. It’s strange being home and feeling like a foreigner because you have an accent when you’re speaking your native tongue.
It’s difficult overcoming the Nostalgia Conundrum.
But it felt right. I knew in those moments, no matter how difficult it may have felt, there would be nothing that kept me from going home once a year.
I’ve been working on defining my values. If I’m honest, it’s been for the past year, ever since I got on a plane to leave Istanbul. On the flight back, I had a plan. I would split my time between my chosen home (Seattle) and explore my roots, but then 2020 happened.
Not only did we get hit with a pandemic, but my company got acquired, which meant that I could no longer work remotely from a different country.
I was lucky to have a job.
It would be irresponsible of me to quit while my friends were getting laid off and struggling to make ends meet.
But we were in the middle of a pandemic, and I kept yearning to be in a place where I belonged.
A place where the simple act of walking down the street would surround me with the sights and sounds of home, even with a mask on.
I felt stuck.
I screamed. I held on. I lashed out. I felt burnt out on life (and work).
I discussed it over and over with my therapist.
The decision was clear.
I put in my request for a leave of absence.
I discussed it over with my brother.
I tossed and turned.
I planned for worst-case scenarios.
The decision is made: I’m going home, and not just for two weeks this time.
I’ll be home for two months, even if that means sitting in my aunt’s apartment because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic.
Even if it scares me because the last time I made a life decision this major was when I packed my car and moved to Seattle.
Even if I’m going to miss the hell out of my cat and the people in my COVID bubble in Seattle.
Even if it means that this will be the first time in 8 years I won’t be spending the holidays in my chosen home.
Because I’m worthy and I belong at home.