Some randomly occurring bits for you...
A few weeks ago on Sabbath, I had a treat! A visiting (married) couple at our church turned out to be ex-student missionaries. When they heard I had just gotten back from my SM posting, they brightened up and told me they'd been SMs together in South America - 'twas where they met & fell in love. I, in turn, brightened up at seeing two people who understood "what it's like."
We talked about the basics; where we'd been and what we were doing as SMs... It was short and sweet, but it felt like taking the lid off my Pandora's Box of my struggles. These days when I notice that I have trouble with reverse culture shock, it's not a constant awareness. It surprises me. I think it's been so important for me to get control over my emotions because when I got back to America, my life was so busy for a solid month (in many different places) that my emotional ups & downs were unwelcome complications for memorial & graveside services, weddings, graduation weekends and all the road trips & plane trips in between during which I had to be pleasant (preferably).
My encounter with the ex-SM couple gave me a quick preview of what a relief and pleasure it'll be to be reunited with all the other SMs when we go back to school. Japhet put it very well: "Everyone is going to want to hear about your experience, but they're going to want to hear it in 2 minutes and then they quit listening." Most people - with a few delightful exceptions - want what we've all gone through and how we've changed to be a pithy, quaint testimony in the form of a fortune cookie.
Even family, with whom it's wonderful to be back with, don't quite understand, and it does feel lonely sometimes. A blessing, though, is that having introverted needs means I don't mind the solitude; I need it, actually.
Also, I wanted to share that while certain changes were inevitable and will always be, some of the better ones wear off if you don't deliberately nurture them. Basically I mean tendencies towards service. Those tendencies were very fresh when I first got back, but then I caught myself acting kinda ugly after about a month. The instances were extremely minor and before I was an SM, I would have labeled them as "taking care of me" but not anymore.
Beforehand, the SM environment was the set of supportive stilts for being unselfish. Now, we don't necessarily have supportive stilts, but we do have opportunities that are just as frequent to be loving and helpful.
I say that I caught myself acting ugly. I use the word ugly, because it just wasn't appealing. Not necessarily repellant, but unappealing, and you know what else? I didn't feel like myself when I acted that way. When we keep trying to live a life of loving kindness to others, the person God intended and designed us to be shines through.
This thing is bigger than the year of service we gave.
Let's not waste it.