Being a Returned Missionary (7 Things I Wish I’d Known)

Missionary Homecoming
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The stereotype of being a returned missionary can be nerve-wracking. But to be fair, you were basically just in a pop culture coma for 2 years. Coming home can be tough so here are 7 things I wish I had known before coming home from a mission.

1. You are probably going to be weird for a while.

Embrace Your Weirdness
Embrace Your Weirdness. Picture by Sincerely Media on Unsplash.

You may find your mom saying, “who are you and what have you done with my child?” This is totally normal. Plus, they are usually saying this because you have changed a lot, not because you did something wrong. The good news is that it will wear off and you will find a new normal eventually.

Dr. Wendy Ulrich and her husband Dr. Dave Ulrich stated, “When you come home, you face a major transition that not everyone feels prepared for. But as a missionary you learned more than you may realize about your next mission—to become a contributing, focused, spiritually committed young adult.”

Related Link: 6 Ways to Adjust to Being an RM 

2. The added measure of the spirit doesn’t have to leave.

Gilbert LDS Temple
Gilbert LDS Temple. Picture by Joe Cook on Unsplash.

Although you will lose the mantle of the missionary calling, it is possible to keep a portion of that added measure of the spirit with you. One of my favorite parts of being a missionary was being able to feel the spirit strongly a majority of the time.

I was so nervous to lose that. I eventually learned that the spirit comes through faithfully keeping your temple covenants, not through wearing a black nametag. You can keep your covenants for the rest of your life.

3. You may lose all sense of personal space.

Together now
Together. Picture by John Schnobrich on Unsplash.

Be aware of when you are standing too close to people or looking over their shoulders. You may be used to serving in a mission where you have been responsible for your companion’s media usage. Always seeing each other’s screens is helpful but make sure that you are not eavesdropping on unsuspecting strangers unintentionally.

4. Coming home could be harder than going out.

School. Picture by Element5 Digital on Unsplash.

You have been reminded of your purpose every day for the past 18-24 months. It is common for a returned missionary to feel directionless and purposeless upon coming home. You’re an adult now and you are accountable for yourself. Make sure that you find a good balance between doing nothing and overworking yourself.

5. You are not a sinner if you watch that new movie.

Stormtrooper from a recent trip to Walt Disney World.
Stormtrooper. Picture by Brian McGowan on Unsplash.

The Force is Star Wars is basically like the priesthood anyway. Right? While on a mission you may have fantasized about what movies to watch when you get home.

Upon coming home, some people feel guilty about watching movies. I know it sounds weird and this doesn’t happen to everyone but I was in this boat.  I’m here to tell you that if you feel this way, you’re not the only one.

6. You have changed, and so has your family.

Family reunited
Family reunited. Picture by Tyler Nix on Unsplash.

Don’t expect things to be exactly as they were when you left. They won’t be and that’s okay. Change can be a good thing. It’s important for both you and your family to expect that the other has changed.

In an article from The Chuch News, it was stated, “Once home, some of these young adults can feel disconnected from their loved ones and the Church, but there is hope and strength that both returned missionaries and loved ones can find in the process.”

Related Link: How to Come Home: Tips for Returning Missionaries 

7. It’s totally normal to not be married within 6 months of coming home.

This is a romantic close up shot of Hunters Race models showcasing the ‘Zeus’ and ‘Neptune’ watches.
This is a romantic close up. Picture by Hunters Race on Unsplash.

When you first get home there is usually an unspoken pressure from your peers and/or family to marry quickly. You may see your old mission companions or friends get married quickly. There is no need to rush into the next stage of your life if you don’t feel ready.

What are some things that you wish you would have known as a returned missionary? Share in the comments. 

Zoë Holyoak is currently a BYU student, photographer, and writer. Her hobbies include long walks through the ice cream aisle at the grocery store and correcting bad grammar. She is also a proud member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a mission for the Church in Portland, Oregon.