Wish You Were Here: When Your Family Isn’t Around the Corner

Just a month ago 40% of you said when it came time to move out, you packed up and headed to a whole new state. That means right now those 40% are sitting away from their family and likely not seeing them as much as those of us who either live not too far from our mom and dad, in the same town as them still, or for some of you – in the same house. When that happens the inevitable is that you’ll miss your loved ones from time to time. It’s natural to be homesick…or is it?

Sitting at the library in downtown, avoiding crazy people, I read in Susan Matt’s Homesickness: An American History that, “Expert literature written for mental health practitioners, as well as popular culture, have ceaselessly promoted the idea that homesickness is a condition that, with proper training can be eliminated in childhood. Consequently, those who feel it as adults are seen as maladjusted.” So we’re supposed to get over missing our mom’s when we’re kids and when we fly the nest, to have any sort of emotional distress is just wrong?

Here’s where I disagree, but maybe Matt has a point when she mentions homesickness is a sign of dependence and ultimately weakness. On one hand, you should feel okay leaving your parent’s house at a certain age. It’s completely normal to have reservations but it’s not like you’re a 10-year-old being forced out to start your own family in a far away jungle. It’s likely you’re a 20-something who knows right from wrong and knows that in an emergency, dial 911. What’s not normal is feeling like you’ll be completely lost without them. They’ve been your idea of normalcy for so long, but at some point you have to start anew and build your own life and define who you are outside of them.

Still, to say missing your loved ones is unnatural is a way is odd. We’ll always miss those we care about when they’re not around. Hell, while she’s not my blood relative, it’s been like 35 years since my best friend moved north and I still think once in awhile, “Man, I wish she was here…she’d play LIFE with me.” Here’s the thing though, back in even the 90’s I think our sadness felt when we moved was greater than it is today thanks to the advancements in technologies. Now I can just text her whenever.

That’s where I agree with Matt when she questions how we could ever feel homesick when we have things like texting, Facetime, Skype and teleportation (this blog will be around by the time this is invented, I swear). Back when my mom moved away from her family and went to Texas for a minute, all she could do was make a phone call that likely cost too much or send a letter. Today we have the annoyances/blessings that come with not just technology but social media. Just think, back in the day people had to wait until the holidays to see how their cousin in Wherever, USA’s baby looked, or wait until they decided to send Sears portraits. Now we can see the kid’s endless stream of baby pictures on the daily. Facebook, the land of unwanted baby pictures according the barren.

Ugly babies aside. Hey, no one wants to see newborns. That’s a fact. Not seeing your family all the time can be a sad thing, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is getting insanely depressed about it because you’ve moved to make a new life for yourself, so enjoy it and know your loved ones miss you just as much as you miss them (hopefully) and that you can always visit them if need be, or have them over.

The Highs and Lows of Not Seeing Your Family All the Time

  1. Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health is noted in a CNN article as saying, “You’re not literally just missing your house. You’re missing what’s normal, what is routine, the larger sense of social space, because those are the things that help us survive.”
  2. According to TIME, back in the 40’s young adults were moving out way earlier than those today. Could that have to do with not wanting to face missing the family?
  3. BBC suggests turning to Skype and Facebook when you start to miss your loved ones. Um, didn’t we just say that?
  4. When you don’t see your family a lot and start to experience homesickness you may have mood swings, cry more than usual and more. See the signs here.
  5. One of the ways Lifehacker suggests getting used to not seeing your family that much is to start your own traditions.

My boyfriend left home when he was 18 and a lack of wisdom (teeth) landed him back with his parents, but he left once again and he’ll open up about only seeing his mom and dad a couple times a year, while I’ll talk about only living a couple of hours away but seeing my family just as much, discuss how not seeing your family enough can result in animosity with Robert Downey Jr. and finally cap it off with the usual top 10 list.


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