I remember the first time I was going to go abroad without my family. I was headed to Venice, Italy to live there for three months and I would be away from them. This was before iPhones and ways you could connect with friends and family members back home easily, so I was devastated. I was thrilled to be going on this trip but part of me was terrified that I would miss something while I was away.
I left for Europe a few years later, then back to Italy to live, back again, and then New York. I’ve made dozens of trips and have been away from my family for long stretches of time. Usually once I get on the plane, I’m fine. Before then, however, is an entirely different story.
I always thought it would get easier. I felt like once I got over that initial time leaving everyone behind that I would get used to it and the whole process would become a lot simpler. But as I head back to New York this time and beyond (it looks like far beyond), I’ve come to the realization that it doesn’t get easier. In fact, some ways it’s even harder.
Part of it is growing up and realizing that you can’t avoid living your life and doing what you’re passionate about. I love to travel and experience new things. I love having adventures and coming home and telling my friends and family about them later. I love having visitors. When my parents came to visit me while I was living in Lucca I had a blast, and it was enough to tide me over until I saw them again that summer.
I’ve come to understand that there is no right answer. I wouldn’t be happy if I stayed in the same town where I grew up, even if I know that means being far away from the people I love. I’m going to make a greater effort to stay in touch (and now we do have iPhones so that makes it a lot easier) and my parents might come visit me again (wherever I happen to be). There are solutions to the problem, even though it doesn’t seem like it at the time you are leaving.
As for the act of heading out? I’ve accepted that it will be hard and that I won’t like it. That I will have doubts about what I’m doing and where I am going. That I will miss home and my friends and family and I will feel lonely sometimes without them.
How do you deal with leaving your loved ones behind?