Going to college is a feat in itself, but for many students who go to school away from home, geographical distance is an added layer of stress and discomfort. Even in my fourth semester of college, I still deal with feelings of homesickness more frequently than I’d like to. I distinctly remember crying when I was leaving my parents’ house to come back to school last year at the end of winter break:
“You’re not crying because you’re dreading going back, right?” my mom asked.
“Nah, I think it’ll be fine,” I choked, not fully believing myself.
Even though we always know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s often difficult – or even impossible – to see. Trusting that everything is going to be okay is a difficult thing to do, but sometimes it’s the best we can do. Needless to say, I survived the rest of the school year, and even chose to come back for round 2. This isn’t everyone’s path, and that’s okay. Finding out what will make you the happiest in the exact moment that it’s happening is more important than “sticking it out” in hopes that the grit of a difficult experience will help build character. Do what’s going to make you feel the best, no matter what, whether that means going to college in your hometown, being out-of-state, or living with your parents.
Sometimes homesickness turns into a feeling of loss. Our homes may stop feeling like home, even though we may not be sure that our current dwelling is “home” either. Feeling like you don’t have a true home anymore is difficult, as these emotions often resemble doubt, fear, and grief. Ultimately, “home” is wherever you make it. The cities that we grew up in and the people that we love are always going to be there for us, and we can carry them in our hearts with us wherever we go. Perhaps when we leave someplace to try something new, we don’t lose a home, but simply gain another. Trusting that our hearts are large enough for two, three, or twenty “homes” is the essential component that allows us to keep going when the longing for a far-away place seems to take over.