Everybody wants to lead a charmed life, but in reality, life doesn’t always work that way. Nobody is spared from being a slave to one’s emotions, especially when it comes to coping with the absence and loss that hits close to home.
Homesick: adj. longing for home and family while absent from them.
Homesickness inflicts an emotional turmoil that consumes the life out of you the moment you realize that you are no longer in the presence of familiar people, places, and things you hold close to your heart. It comes in waves and strikes when you least expect it.
In perspective, it goes way beyond human comprehension and its predefined meaning; it’s usually subjective and unique to one’s personal experiences.
We have probably experienced every kind of homesickness as we grow through life. From the moment we leave for school; when our best friends move to another country for good; when you miss someone who is no longer there; when we long for a place full of remarkable memories; when we embark on a journey to distant places; when we have a hard time adjusting to change; when we lose a loved one; when parents leave to seek opportunities abroad to give their children a better life—the list goes on and on.
The start of new beginnings or the next chapter in someone’s life often comes at a price; whether you are moving to a far-off place to study, work, or explore, you will always find yourself looking for a piece of home wherever you go. Not to mention it also takes a toll on the lives of people who are left behind. And this I am sure of because I know how it feels to be at both ends of the spectrum—as the one who stayed and the one who left.
What It Feels Like To Be Homesick
All throughout my life, I have been on an endless loop of yearning. Ever since my childhood, I spent a lot of time exchanging goodbyes with my mom, who has dedicated her life up in the sky, and I never quite understood the reason why some people are willing to sacrifice being apart from their loved ones just to chase after their dreams. Until one day I found myself in the same boat.
Growing up, I’ve had my fair share of struggling with nostalgia — that insatiable void in your life from missing loved ones, friends or people you thought would always stick around, reminiscing fond memories of the best years of your youth, daydreaming of places I have yet to see, and to top it all off, waking up everyday to the painful reality that I have to live another day without my family and friends within reach for the sake of pursuing my dreams.
After graduating from university, I took the leap of faith and built a life for myself abroad. My new adventure started off incredibly well. I settled in smoothly to a new home in the city, adapted quickly to a new working environment, discovered unfamiliar places, immersed myself into a new culture, built new relationships—I basically just had the time of my life. But then the harsh truth hits you the moment you realize that experiencing milestones or life’s simple pleasures is only meaningful when shared with the people you love. And to have the best of both worlds was just wishful thinking.
Feeling homesick is like fighting a losing battle; no matter what you do, memories of home will always find a way to remind you what you’ve been constantly missing out on life.
Dealing with change and unwanted emotions that come with stepping out of our comfort zone has not always been humanity’s strong suit. Here are some of the ways that kept my sanity intact all those times I felt like the world was caving in:
1. Accept your feelings
It is important to acknowledge your feelings. Bottling up emotions could lead to more serious health issues. Keep in mind the reason why you had to leave in the first place. Usually, we take the plunge for a greater cause: to provide for our family, to have a brighter future, to pursue our dreams, to volunteer, and to experience the world.
You were brave enough to venture out into the unknown, so there is nothing you can’t overcome. “There can be no triumph without loss. No victory without suffering. No freedom without sacrifice.”
2. Explore Outside Your Comfort Zone
Being in a new environment could be overwhelming, which is why we miss home the moment we are forced out of our usual routine. But the beauty of being in a foreign land is the opportunity to widen your horizons and discover endless possibilities you wouldn’t get if you stayed in your comfort zone.
Be a tourist and go sightseeing, go on outdoor adventures, eat at hole-in-the-wall restaurants, or simply find your own local go-to spots in your new stomping ground.
3. Socialize Often
Being overly independent could be detrimental to one’s personal growth and well-being. Choosing to be on your own all the time would only heighten negative emotions. There is a fine line between being alone and lonely, which is why we need to surround ourselves with people who will constantly inspire, challenge our ideals, teach us life lessons, and grow with us in our new adventure.
Meeting people from all walks of life is utterly life-changing, so start saying yes more often to social activities and you’ll surely build relationships for keeps.
4. Be Part Of Something
Having too much idle time could evoke feelings of emptiness and chronic boredom, clouding our minds with unnecessary thoughts that affect our productivity. Instead of wallowing in nostalgia, use your time wisely by joining organizations, enrolling in classes, attending social events, supporting a cause, or starting your own local group.
Don’t let life pass you by—enjoy everything that the world has to offer. Go out there and do something amazing.
5. Keep In Touch With Your Loved Ones
No matter how far you wander and how exciting your new life turned out to be, you’ll find yourself constantly wanting to share your new experiences, stories, relationships, and realizations with the people you’ve left behind. It’s ironic how absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it really does, and we are fortunate enough to live in a time where we can stay connected with our family and friends all day.
You can only do so much to get your homesickness under control; at the end of the day, the only thing that remedies the ache you feel is being in the presence of the people who matter most.
Being homesick is the result of being detached from the people and things that make us feel alive, safe, and protected. If we had nothing to yearn for in life, have we really lived life to the fullest and loved unconditionally?
We cannot control or choose the people who come and go in our lives, but we could make the most out of the time we’ve had with them worthwhile.