I’ve been flooded with messages this week from girls and guys who are away from home this Christmas, asking for advice on how to cope with feeling homesick at this time of year, so I thought I’d write my thoughts out for you all (and myself) <3
Myself and Ruairi had great intentions when we left Ireland in September to visit home again for Christmas, but life happened, and taking a holiday home again after only moving 11 short weeks ago, we realised, wasn’t all that viable. We said “See you at Christmas” to everyone when we left, and now we’re saying “Oops, see you in 2017!”
I was doing pretty good until I watched a film last week that brought on a panic attack IN the damn cinema, the first I’ve had in years, due to a lot of feelings of guilt and worry and Christmass-y homesickness (what am I missing out on) rolled into one, but I got through it, it was a small one, having a psychotherapist boyfriend on hand always helps with that 😉 He knows what to say and do hehe!
It made me think a lot though and I wondered how many others were having the same feelings.
So if you’re away from home this Christmas and finding it hard, here’s a few things that may help you.
Firstly, if you’re feeling guilty for being away from home, drop it. You chose to leave and at that time it felt like the best thing for you, didn’t it? Remember that.
We tend to look back nostalgically, we remember the good and forget all (if any) of the bad.
It’s ok to feel sad, allow those feelings, don’t fight them BUT don’t let them take over everything.
So here’s my most important point – Remember your WHY.
Why did you move away from home in the first place? How were you feeling day to day?
For me, I have to remind myself of my WHY when I feel homesick over little things. Without getting in to too much, I’m an ambitious and driven individual by nature, it’s part of me and so to be honest, for a solid 8-10 months, I felt quite unfulfilled, unchallenged and at a ceiling point with my career, I craved a chance to start over, to live in other cultures and see what the world really had to offer that I had not yet experienced, career wise and life wise.
I always wondered what it would be like to move abroad again. We travelled a lot in 2015 and 2016, but every single time I came home, I wanted to leave again, straight away. Work was busy, life felt pretty good but this feeling of needing to leave was affecting my day to day life. I felt stuck and worried that this would be it, and I didn’t want to settle with that. I didn’t want to chase holidays, I wanted to live in another culture, to feel out of place, challenged and thrown out of my comfort zone. I needed sun. I refused to live under grey skies forever and as much as I love the brisk spring mornings and cool sea air, I cannot stand the rain every.single.day. Something as normal as rain was starting to frustrate me.
Life is too short to live in wonder, without turning that wonder into action.
I’m in Dubai, and it doesn’t feel anything like Christmas here. When I lived in Boston before, I had the snowy days and the Christmas decorations and the music everywhere, there was a real Christmas spirit, so I felt quite good and jolly about it all, but Dubai is so different. So it’s going to depend on where you are in the world too, certain places will feel as far away from home, and some places will feel a little homelier.
At times I really miss being able to go for a run on a dark evening with the wind and rain in my face BUT then I also remember how much I hated going to work in the dark at 5:30am, freezing my tits off and feeling that cold for the rest of the day. I like rain sometimes, just not all the time.
With the good, there’s the bad.
So when I feel down, I remember my WHY. I force myself to remember some of the bad days as well as the good, that sounds a little morbid, but you get me, don’t you? I remember that wanderlust feeling that never seemed to leave my side.
The hardest thing is at this time of year, when you usually spend so much more time around your family, especially if, throughout the year like me, you don’t get as much of a chance. So that’s why it’s harder for us to deal with being away at an important and traditional time. Feelings of guilt rise up, guilty that we aren’t at home, we “should” be there also only heightens the sadness.
Again, remember your WHY. Why are you doing this? Why did you move abroad? Did it feel like the right thing to do at the time? Yes… then you’ll be ok. You won’t be away from home forever, and yes it’s shit missing a Christmas and birthdays and babies being born but if you were home, would you be wondering about what it could be like to move? It works both ways.
After your Christmas dinner, when all is done, would you be lying in bed wondering about life abroad?
My only niece is turning 2 in January, this is her first Christmas running around, pulling shit off the Christmas tree and being able to open presents properly herself, this is the one thing that makes me most sad. I get videos of her shouting “eeeeesssshhhaaaa” and ‘wuuuuuu-weeeeee” (Lisa & Ruairi hahaha) and I’m like “NOOO don’t let her learn our names until we are standing there!” I was hounding her to say our names months before we left and BOOM once we leave, 1 month later, she thinks it’s funny to decide to do it of course. The wee brat. I’m sad that I’m not there but I also have to remind myself that she doesn’t really have a notion that she hasn’t seen me in a few months. She’s too young to understand. She isn’t sad, so that’s ok.
I asked my sister to record my niece opening the presents I sent her, so that I kinda feel like I’m there. That’s better than nothing. Maybe you could try the same?
I have to remember life happens! We cannot be there for every single thing that happens, we can’t keep ourselves somewhere that we are unhappy “just incase” we miss something. We have to follow our path and follow what is calling us or we will resent everything in years to come.
The truth is, if you do feel homesick at this time of year, it’s only natural. Wherever you are in the world, surround yourself with others in the same boat as you, as much as you can until you get into the new year!
When the new year hits, you’ll more than likely remember “HEY, I’m actually living one of the resolutions I always tried to make! I moved abroad to get a taste of another life and another me and it does feel amazing! I’m LIVING my resolution!”
You’re going to have bad hours or bad days and that’s ok, don’t be afraid to talk about it. The girl working with you probably feels the same way and would love if somebody asked her how she’s feeling. Share your words and feelings.
If celebrating Christmas in another continent feels odd or just not the same and actually makes you feel more emotional, then you don’t have to.
Instead, shake things up by booking a skydive, hot air balloon at sunrise, safari trip, yacht trip, camp in the desert or whatever you’ve been dying to do for a while. Make it one to remember, by your own rules.
To finish, if you feel like this isn’t just a Christmass-y homesickness and you genuinely aren’t happy where you are, then there’s nothing stopping you from returning home, or moving somewhere that’s closer to home, to make it easier for more trips back?
You’re not a tree, you aren’t rooted to the ground, you can get up and think of another plan, you’re allowed to do that. You don’t need to stay where you are just because it was a big deal for you to get there. Life is so short, your time here is only a shadow of the whole universe so don’t waste it.
Be true to yourself, be honest and do what you gotta do to feel good, to feel “at home” wherever you are in the world.
I hope you have a happy Christmas and that you make the most of it, wherever you are.
PS. I will be talking on Facebook LIVE tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7pm Irish/UK time. I hope you tune in