The Kind Of 20-Something Homesickness That Nobody Talks About

Woman looking over view
Alex Holyoake

I’m not an emotional person – for the most part. I’ll clarify. I’m not the kind of emotional person who cries all the time because they miss their mom and dad, and when I first went to college this was no different. Dropped off in Florence, Italy for my very first year of school (yes I spent my freshman year abroad), I didn’t shed a single tear when my parents left, and was excited to start on a new exciting journey – in Italy, no less. Who would be upset about an opportunity like that?

Fast forward four years – I graduated from NYU and lived away from home the whole time without a problem. I spent the summer after graduation at home, relaxing with my cats before I moved back to New York to live with my high school best friend.

This should have been one of the most exciting times of my life – moving back to a city that I already knew and loved, and living with a good friend – a dream come true for most people, but I would never have anticipated that this would become my nightmare.

It was the night before I was set to leave, to go back to New York to interview for jobs and search for an apartment, and I couldn’t stop crying – loud heavy sobs with which I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Was I scared to grow up? Leave my parents? Be in the ‘real’ world? All of these things were and still are true. My mother is my best friend and biggest supporter; I know that through anything and everything she would be there for me no question.

She was appalled to see me so upset. Minutes before we were set to leave for the airport, she finally said the unthinkable. She said she hated to see me so sad and that I didn’t have to go. She said we could cancel the trip and that I could stay at home, safe and warm, protected and surrounded by so much love that sometimes even I couldn’t handle it. Snuggling with my beloved cats, only leaving the house for food and the gym, everything else taken care of for me.

This was my out.

But as much as I wanted to, I still know that this was the only decision that was right for me. I couldn’t leave my friend hanging without a roommate and I finally realized that I couldn’t go back to my childhood home the way I want to remember it. I will never be a child again, and although it will forever be my home and I am welcome to come home and visit whenever I want, this last summer was just that – the last summer for me to be a kid, to not have any responsibilities or bills or worries of my own. Even if I don’t like it, this is the way it has to be, and I am only lucky that I even have the opportunity to be in such a vibrant and energetic city while I’m still young.

Sitting in my bed in the middle of the night, longing for the soft fur of my cats or the loving embrace of my parents, tears still roll down my cheeks, and I can’t stop them. I think about how I wish I knew that other people my age were going through the same things. Being a young adult just entering the working world is not easy, especially with the political and economic state America is in, and sometimes I fear for my future, the uncertainty of it all.

But my advice is this: don’t bottle up your emotions – feel what you’re feeling, and focus on the positives.

The New York City of my college years is just a hazy memory. Now it feels more like a cruel place, just waiting for me to falter so it can stick its claws into me and drag me down into its spiraling depression. Instead, I try to focus on the things that make life worth living, and remember that the loving support of my parents that I suddenly (and unexpectedly) miss so much is not gone – it simply has to stretch a little further, across the hills and valleys that make up this country.

So while the next chapter is planted firmly here, in New York City, only we, as young adults, can decide what will become of our futures, and I need to decide to give this place the chance that I am already trying to deny it. Crawling out of the hold of unemployment despair and money woes is difficult, but even getting the thoughts out onto paper makes the word a weapon – one that pokes big holes in crushing weight on my chest and allows me to finally breathe again. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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