BYU Psychologist Explains the Returned Missionary “Awkwardness Phase”

BYU Psychologist Explains the Returned Missionary “Awkwardness Phase”


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Editor’s Note: this article was originally published on LDS Living

BYU professor Ed Gantt answers some of the most common questions pestering returning missionaries and explains why the post-mission “awkward phase” is actually quite normal.

“She’s still adjusting.” “He’s caught in that awkward, post-missionary phase.” “She just needs a little more time to normalize.”  We’ve all heard these comments about return missionaries.  Many of us have probably made them.  And many of us were probably the missionaries being talked about.

There’s no doubt about it, return missionaries carry with them that lingering feeling of something being slightly askew–a post-mission “awkward factor” that friends and family can’t help but notice.  While it’s funny to tease or joke about, there’s very little funny about actually experiencing these awkward and sometimes painful adjustments as a return missionary.

But, for future and current returned missionaries, it’s important to realize that the post-mission “awkward factor” is quite normal.  Healthy even.

BYU Professor of Psychology, Dr. Ed Gantt, answered five crucial questions every returned missionary faces in this post-mission phase–answers that provide insight into the psychological and spiritual adjustments return missionaries face and offer advice for how to emerge from these changes stronger than before.  Be sure to check out Dr. Gantt’s inspiring insights below.

How does your mind cope with big life changes, like returning home from a mission?

“Human beings like stability and routine.  Even the most adventurous and spontaneous of us still rely pretty heavily on having an ordered and structured life.  Serving as a full-time missionary involves a tremendous amount of routine and structure.  Having that structure dramatically and suddenly changed can be very…

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