Post-sabbatical blues

I had read about the post-sabbatical blues and the strategies to manage” the reentry” well before we set out for our sabbatical.  

But nothing, I repeat, nothing prepared me for the shock that I experienced going back to Sweden and my “life behind a computer” after the sabbatical in Costa Rica. 

For me, the year in Costa Rica had been a mind-blowing experience. I reconnected with my passion for nature, the thrill of working outdoors and being physically active, and the absolute joy of watching wildlife and taking care of injured animals. 

When I left Sweden, I thought that my lack of energy and social appetite was due to age. After all, I was not in my twenties or thirties anymore – I said to my self-. But in Costa Rica, I discovered that I had my energy back. Even after long days, doing what -for me was- hard work, I felt full of energy.  

And then we returned home to Sweden, to our “old” job, spending my days indoors and behind a computer. And I couldn’t muster the energy to get out of bed. 

I felt like a piece of a puzzle that has changed shape but needs to fit in the same old space. But despite that, it was effortless to fall back into the well-known routines. As if the sabbatical in Costa Rica had been a lovely experience, but now it was a distant memory. 

Only that it wasn´t, or better said, it isn’t. 

The experiences we had on the sabbatical in Costa Rica have awakened something in us (I believe that Frank has gone through something similar, but it is up to him to share). For me, it is an urge to work in wildlife conservation and to live in a warm environment. It is like a flame burning inside me, urging me to act. 

I read recently an invitation for an event targeted to “those who climbed to the top of the mountain, only to find they climbed the wrong mountain.”  

That’s it! – I thought. – But just not entirely so. 

After successfully making a career in academia, where I became a full prof in economics at the age of 40, I suddenly realized that I was done with this full-time (academic) life. Mind me, I LOVE to do research, and I walk on a cloud when I hear from students that they enjoy my classes. Still, I see no point in spending even more years of my life trying to publish academic articles, getting funding for projects where I will be coordinating but not genuinely doing the research, or sitting in administrative meetings. 

So, maybe it is not so much that I climbed the wrong mountain but that after some years at the top, the narrow path winding down the mountain slope towards the unknown suddenly seems MUCH more exciting.  

And thus, after many -I repeat MANY- sleepless nights, we decided that we are ready to move on and start a new life. We are planning to return to Costa Rica, this time for good. We are scared and excited, convinced that this is the right path for us but sometimes overwhelmed by the implications of the decision that we have made. But I will tell more about those in the next blog. Yes, we are BACK!.  

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