Family is everything for the first part of your life. Your parents help you with everything and raise you to be the best you can be. If you have siblings, you look out for them and they look out for you. In elementary school, you learn how to tie your shoes and ride your bike. Around middle school, you start to either love or hate your family. But you know you still love them anyway. Once high school comes around, you feel ready to get away from them or feel afraid to move out of the nest because you can’t imagine your life without them.
My sister’s roommate dropped out because she missed her family
When my family dropped off my big sister at college for the first time, it felt weird. My oldest sister went to a local technical college so she still lived at home then. My other sister decided to go to college out-of-state at Iowa State University, four hours away. When we left, my sister cried, I cried, my parents cried, my oldest sister cried. It was tough. We all Skyped frequently and that made it easier.
Not too long after, my sister revealed that her roommate dropped out of college because she missed her family too much. She’s from Iowa. Her family’s a couple of hours away, if even. I didn’t know what it was like to live away from my family because I was only 15 at the time.
Throughout high school, I had friends and classmates who struggled to find places to live. They didn’t want to live at home with their parents anymore and instead live with their significant other or alone. On the other hand, I never knew what the big deal was. I loved my family. I couldn’t imagine not living with my parents.
When I was a toddler, before I started preschool, my mom watched me during the day and went to work at night. When my sisters and I all went to different schools, I remember specifically one day one of my sisters waited for me in the garage as I walked home from the bus stop while it rained. My sister would drive me to school and I would take the bus home when I was in ninth grade. I never imagined what it would be like to live without my family, they’ve done everything for me.
My first night away from my parents, I cried.
I was used to not living with one of my sisters since my oldest one moved out and lived with one of her friends for a while in the same city. Then that same sister took a job teaching at a preschool in Santa Monica, so that didn’t feel different since she hadn’t lived with us for a couple of years anyway. But I still felt like something was missing.
I went to the same local technical college as my oldest sister. I went for three years, living at home and working—it’s like nothing changed. When I got my acceptance letter for UW-Oshkosh, toured the campus and decided to go there, I didn’t think anything of it. I visited the campus a few times between then and moving day. It’s an easy hour and a half drive. It didn’t hit me that I would be living without my parents.
When it came time for moving, it still didn’t feel real. There were some complications with my apartment so I had to stay at a conference center/dorm on campus for a week. I knew I didn’t need to wait long to see my parents again, but all day I didn’t want them to go.
When I was all moved into my room, I walked my parents out and fought back tears. You see it on television and in movies. Character says goodbye to their family and they’re either happy or sad. After hugging my parents, it hit me: I was going to be alone.
When they drove off, I went back up to my room and didn’t know what to do. I was alone for the first time in 21 years.
I did what any other college student would do: listen to music and watch Netflix. (Gossip Girl, to be exact.)
The instant I got into my room, I texted my mom and told her how much I already missed her. The longest I’ve ever been away from my family, both my parents and sisters, was when I took a trip to Chicago nearly two months before that. That was only for five days. There’s been times it’s just two of us, three of us or four of us, but I was still with my parents.
Less than an hour and a half away, I knew I would see my dad and sister the following weekend to help me move into my apartment. And I knew I wasn’t the only one experiencing homesickness, but I was still sad. I wasn’t going to wake up with my dog in my room, I wouldn’t eat my dad’s amazing meals and I wouldn’t go to work with my favorite coworkers. When I saw my dad and my sister the next weekend, I felt so happy. And when they left, I felt sad. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first time.
I went home two weeks later because I missed my family. I stopped at work and greeted coworkers. They said they missed me. I went home and felt ecstatic when I saw my parents, my sister and my dog. I FaceTimed them almost every night, and even though nothing changed in 24 hours, I just wanted to see them. When I left that Sunday to go back, it was still hard but I was okay.
It gets easier.
I still FaceTime my parents practically every day. I still miss them every day. It didn’t seem like it would ever get easier. That first week in a new place, living by myself was hard. As weeks went by, I would always remind myself when I would go home again.
I text my parents when I’m missing them. I listen to music that reminds me of them or music that makes me happy. It does get easier. It may not seem like it, but it does. Even when you think you don’t miss your family, you might see or hear something that reminds you of them and you’re instantly sad.
Hanging out with friends, listening to music, watching television, even focusing on school makes it easier. I’ll never fully get over missing my family when I’m away, but I know I’ll be okay.