Life has been good to you. You girded your loins and spent 18-24 months in the service of others on a Mormon mission and (hopefully) used your time well and lost yourself in the work. If you spent a big chunk of your mission goofing off and breaking the rules, then you’ve already had your rest, and this list is not for you. This list is for winners.
So you’ve earned a bit of a reprieve. Take it. Let This Week in Mormons help you settle into civilian life again.
10. Sleep in.
As a good missionary, you never, ever slept in. 18-24 months without sleeping in, EVER. And missions are absurdly exhausting. Sleep in at least once. Let it happen. Just don’t get lazy and start waking up at 10:00 each day with nothing in the docket.
9. Keep busy.
Yes, you’ve earned a well-deserved break, but don’t just assume life is a vacation from here on out. If anything, it gets harder. So enjoy a small respite, but then start finding stuff to do, whether that’s school, work, or your calling. Bearing that in mind, go get a calling! Bishops get busy and can get backed up on extending callings, so make yourself known to the local bossman. Keeping busy is important. The worst thing you can do for yourself post-mission is find yourself aimless and wasting time on the Internet. That will lead you into porn.
8. Touch someone of the opposite sex.
That’s not meant in some perverted way. But look, former Elders, you know many of you got so desperate for simple TLC that you had man-on-man massages. It happens. I’ve witnessed it. This is life in the field. It’s like war. Sisters, you need a man’s man to be manly with you and to be legitimately flirted with again. Just hug a man or a woman and enjoy not freaking out if someone touches your leg or you find yourself alone in a room with someone of your gender of attraction. Heck, make out a bit if you want to, but only pecking … with tongue … and light booty grabbing.
7. Eat your favorite foods from your native land.
Even if you are from Utah and served in Pennsylvania, two years eating the cooking of anthracite coal miners is going to leave you wanting, even if it’s for something as ridiculous as Cafe Rio or Beto’s. I’m from California, and did I fulfill the expected cliche and eat In-N-Out as soon as humanly possible? You bet I did. It didn’t matter that I ate like a king for two years in Spain. I wanted something familiar. Experiences will vary, especially if you are from Utah.
6. Watch the films you missed while away (also, other enjoyable activities).
Did the Lord bless me with musical capability only to see me “ease” into playing guitar again? No. I cranked my amp, turned on my pedals, and had at it. That dang thing was mothballed for two years.
Also, only a ninny will be freaked out by “Toy Story 3.” Don’t go off the deep end and start watching “Requiem for a Dream” or anything, but enjoy some films that you couldn’t watch on a mission. Don’t kill the spirit in your life or get desensitized to stuff, but for goodness’ sake, the final “Lord of the Rings” movie came out as I returned from my mission. You’d better believe I went and saw it. But we recommend against all Nicholas Sparks adaptations, both for content and common decency, except for “Safe Haven,” mostly because Julianne Hough is still on Church records.
5. Read something that has nothing to do with Church.
Don’t misunderstand. Keep reading your Church stuff. Just read, you know, the news, a magazine, the latest Stephenie Meyer novel, etc. I’ve always loved current events, and I struggled during my mission being so out of the loop. I’d catch myself glancing toward news stands just to see what was up, but after realizing that the news stands were mostly covered in porn, I went back to staring at the sidewalk.
4. Get in touch with all your old mission pals with whom you assume you shall remain the bestest of friends, even though you won’t.
I’m going to tell you a harsh truth: a mission is a lot like the ending of “The Breakfast Club” – “Will we still be friends after we’re all removed from this one common bond we share?” It’s human nature to bond with like-minded folks when working together as strangers in a strange land. Don’t worry, you’ll keep up with lots of your mission chums, but don’t be surprised when your post-mission life is not just a big alumni party.
3. Enjoy spending your parents’ money.
One of the most marvelous things after a mission is basking in the approval of your loved ones. Sure, enjoy their company and stuff, but then enjoy the fact that even though you probably mooched a bit off of them over the past two years, your folks are going to want to buy you the moon. I recommend against offers for a car, but don’t be surprised if pocket money is easy to come by.
2. Help the missionaries in your ward!
Remember when you were a missionary (like, last week), and you had those ward members who were just awesome? The RM who came home and was a total rock star? And remember how you were disappointed by the schmoes who came home and did nothing? Yeah, make some time for the Elders. You were just one of them. But they are not your best friends or your new social life! Your are now a civilian and you are required to talk to other humans about Church and non-Church-related activities!
1. Write in your journal.
This is a big one. Above all else, write about your transition in your journal. You will look back on that and be amazed. I was a fastidious journal keeper throughout my mission, but I completely stopped for a bit after I got home. As such, I don’t have much of a record of how it was to transition back into normal life, and that is to my detriment. Journals are arguably our greatest source of self-reflection.