I was 17 when I left for college. Determined to show no weakness, I left with every intention of succeeding 100% on my own. I was not going to follow my eldest sister’s footsteps and come running home every weekend. Nor would I ask Mom and Dad for money every 3 days like my brother. As the youngest of 6 children I had a strong thirst to prove that I was the strongest and the most independent.
So, I refused to call home.
Two months after leaving I had hardly spoken to a single family member. I answered when someone called me and I responded adequately to every Facebook message or email I received. But I wasn’t the one to reach out to them, and that made me proud. I could do this; I could live on my own.
But at the same time, I was also so homesick that it often made me physically ill. I was constantly dealing with headaches that just wouldn’t go away, and food became tasteless, driving away my appetite. In just a short two-month period I lost 10 pounds…so much for the freshman 15.
There would be moments, when my new group of friends surrounded me, in which I wouldn’t think about my mom or my high school friends. There would be hours when I could push everything away and just focus on my homework or the new group activity that I’d joined.
But talking to my new friends wasn’t like hanging out with my old best friend. And nobody knew what I was thinking as well as my mother, my sisters, or even my brothers would have known. My sarcasm went over the heads of many of my new friends, and there were often things that I found funny that nobody else understood (and vice-versa).
But that’s the way life is.
So every night, when the loneliness came crashing down on me as I tried to fall asleep, I’d attempt to push it away by thinking about my homework or that cute boy in my Spanish 103 class. And I’d fail miserably, falling asleep with a soggy pillow instead.
So why didn’t I just give in and call? Because calling home just made those feelings stronger. There’s something about hearing everyone act normally that just made me feel more dejected and isolated.
I just wanted to go back in time.
There is no cure for homesickness, but slowly as weeks turned into months my longing for my family faded. Eventually, I even managed to return home for a weekend without feeling sick. But that transition was probably one of the hardest I ever went through. It helped shaped me into the person I am today, a person who is still just a little bit homesick for the way things used to be. But also a person who isn’t afraid to enjoy the way things are.