I’ve been away from home for 6 months now. 6 whole months. wow. The time really has flown by.
When you decide to up sticks and leave behind everything you have ever known for an indefinite amount of time, you have to make some compromises. Whilst travel is always worth anything you will leave behind, you still have to face up to the fact that you’re no longer going to be surrounded by everything you know, love, and are used to. The safety blankets will be pulled away from your clutch. You will say goodbye to loved ones, to your home and the surroundings you are used to, and to the mundane activities which in actuality have the power to shape who you are and your relationships with others.
Since I’ve been away, I’ve naturally had feelings of homesickness a few times. I haven’t missed what I’ll call ‘actual home’ once. i haven’t missed the UK, with it’s dreary weather, misery, and cynicism. I haven’t missed the ideas of keeping up appearances, or trying and failing to do something worthwhile with my degree. I haven’t missed my hometown. But I have missed people. I’ve missed my family, my friends, my dog. These are the things that light up my life. I totally believe that experiences are worth nothing if you don’t have people in your life to share those experiences with. I have met so many incredible people on my travels, people who are funny, truthful, inspiring and infinitely wise. People who have stories to tell. But nothing quite compares to simple, shared, and sometimes silent experiences with a friend who knows you inside and out. Saying goodbye to the people I love however, has been worth it. Yes, I miss them dearly, but I know that I will see them again, and the world is smaller than ever. I speak to my mum a few times a week on Facetime, and via my digital conversations with friends and families, I learn how proud they are of me for following my dreams and ambitions, instead of staying home and adhering to the status quo. I miss them, but we are not too far after all.
So yes, homesickness has struck a few times on my trip, but only in the sense of missing the people close to me. However, in 6 months, right now is the first time I feel I have experienced homesickness in it’s truest and rawest form. The desire to be surrounded with the comforts of home. The daunting realisation that you are, indeed, on the opposite side of the globe. I’ve survived flying to Bangkok and travelling all around Asia alone. I’ve now been settled in a place with my boyfriend, friends and a job. Yet I feel homesick. Why?
I attribute it to the fact I’ve been ill. Full of sniffing and blocked nose, scratchy, irritating, chesty cough. I have a cold and it sucks. I have been ill on my trip before – like the time I woke up at 2am in a hut on Koh Lanta, all alone, with the horrid sensation that I needed to throw up yet couldn’t, my heart suffering palpitations, aided by the heavy bass coming from the beach party a few hundred metres away. I called my mum, and talked to her until the sickness subsided and I could fall back asleep. Because despite being 22 years old, nothing will ever make me feel better as much as my mum can. Thankfully, this illness lasted only a few hours, however whilst what I have now I can cope with, it just makes my body cry out for home. I desire nothing more than my own bed, and a hot bath, and my dog, and cups of tea made by my mother. I call her for advice, but then the realisation of how far I am from home and my family really hits me.
Despite all this however, I still don’t really want to go home. I am still so happy that I am here, in Australia. Whilst other people who don’t travel may disagree, I truly believe I am doing something with my life that just would not happen if i was still at home. Yes, I miss my family and friends. Yes, I occasionally miss those home comforts and it frustrates me that when I’m sick my boyfriend can’t look after me the way my mother can. But I still don’t really want to be home. I want to get better. And I want to be here, on an adventure, enjoying this beautiful earth.
I think it’s ok to get homesick sometimes. It’s important to appreciate the people closest to us and the sacrifices we have made by travelling. It is incremental to also understand why we made those sacrifices and decided to travel in the first place. Being away from home is so important, and part of it’s importance is how we deal with homesickness. It’s important in showing us how to be independent, how to look after ourselves and our own needs. It’s vital in our growth as human beings. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, it reminds us of where we are now, where we are going, and why we have decided to be in the place we are in. Despite any homesickness, confusion, or struggles we have, it will all be worth it.