In Part Four of the MOVING OUT SERIES, I will explore the emotional aspects of venturing out on your own. Homesickness can lead to physical and mental health issues and is a real topic that needs to be addressed when moving out. If you haven’t already, please read Part One: The Guide to Your First Apartment, Part Two: Understanding Lease/Rental Agreements, and Part Three: Moving Out: How much will it cost?
You have finally done it! You have budgeted and saved and found the perfect place for your needs. You have prepared your finances and know that you will be able to afford all of the hidden costs of renting an apartment and are ready to move! You found friends and family who will help you move in and give you some basic furnishings to get you started. You finally move in and feel excited for the first few weeks of living on your own. But then it hits…loneliness, sadness, and boredom. At first, all of you friends were coming over, if you live near where you are from, but that slowed down as the newness wore off and people got back to their own lives. If you have moved farther away, you may not have any one to invite over and may spend all of your non-working hours alone. At first, this might be nice. You light candles, take baths, and read whenever you want. Eventually, though, you feel alone and sad.
This is a normal part of going out on your own. Even if you have roommates, chances are you are going to start missing the familiarity of your previous home life. Admit it, it is nice to have your parents to pick up after you when you don’t feel like doing it, or not to worry about what is for dinner. You have been craving independence and freedom, but now you are spending most of your time working or paying your bills, doing laundry, and all of the other “grown up” things you didn’t think were going to be as difficult.
Homesickness is defined as “a feeling of longing for one’s home after a long absence from it.” Homesickness is a real condition where you may start to feel sadness, loneliness, lack of motivation, anxiousness, depression, sense of insecurity about being able to make it on your own, and mood swings. Depending on how you left your parents, you may feel like you cannot ask for help for fear of looking like a failure. Every one, even those with busy social lives, can feel homesickness when they move away. If you are able to make it past these feelings, you will end up stronger and more confident about being an adult. If you are having these feelings and they are overwhelming or leading to unhealthy thought, please contact a mental health professional immediately.
So, what are some tips to combat homesickness?
- Call your parents. Keep in touch with your siblings. Stay in contact with your home and talk about how things are there. If you can, talk to your parents about your feelings. Maybe your mom will bake you some cookies or give you a recipe of some comfort food that you can make that makes you feel like home. Maybe you dad will send you a video of him telling you he misses you too. Sometimes just dealing with these feelings can make us feel better about what we miss.
- Check out your new area. If you are new to a city, start checking out what it has to offer. This can be daunting if you have never done things on your own before, but it is very rewarding to go to a museum on your own and look at what you like for as long as you want, or go to some local restaurants and have some coffee or a meal on your own. People watch and enjoy your own company. Think of it as research for when your family comes to visit, you will know all the good places to go.
- Keep busy. If you can afford your new apartment, you are probably working full time or going to school full time. But when you aren’t doing that, find something social to keep yourself busy. Take a pottery class, join a gym, or find a local park for walks. After awhile you will start to meet more people who are interested in the things you are interested in, and you will suddenly be too busy to feel lonely.
- Embrace the feeling. Don’t wallow in your feelings of loneliness, but find the good in being alone. You can finally do things the way you want to do it. Understand that you are homesick and start to actively think about what it is you want to accomplish in your life. Take this time to yourself to start creating goals for your future and working toward that goal. Create a vision board or a goal list that will keep you motivated and working toward something. You have dreams and goals. This is your chance to get to know yourself better, on your own, and be real with what you want out of life. Use your time to explore your faith, your religion, or just who you are deep down.
- Create routines. Sure, at first you may feel like freedom means having no rules about cleaning up or having order in your life, but once you start wanting to gain control of your life again, you should start finding your own routines. Your mom may have had schedule of chores that were done on certain days, maybe you should recreate that same routine. Or maybe you want to start seeing what works for you. This is a great time to work on planning in planners and tracking habits and money. Once you start on good routines, you can make them habits that you carry with you and keep you busy. Maybe you want to spend Sundays doing laundry, meal prepping, and going over your finances. Keep track of what you want to do and make yourself do it every Sunday. The busier you are, the less time you have to feel lonely.
- Get professional help. Talking to a licensed therapist can always help you through your homesickness and there is nothing to be ashamed of if you need to see one. First of all, it is no one’s business if you are getting help if you don’t want it to be and second, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. One of the most important aspects of being an adult, is taking control of your physical and mental health (Check out my article on Self Care here).
- Start making friends. If there is a happy hour after work, go and hang out with your coworkers. Work (or school) is usually the first place we start finding friends because that is where we hang out the most. Again, go to places frequently and start finding people who have similar interests as you, and maybe ask them to join you next time. It can be hard making friends as adults, but it is possible. Just keep your mind and heart open to opportunities to make connections.
Realize that it is perfectly natural to feel homesick. We have all felt that way when we have been away from home for too long and it can feel worse when we know we can’t go back after signing a lease. This is all part of being a grown up, and can be manageable. If you don’t feel like you can manage your homesickness, contact a mental health professional. Talk to your parents if you can. Chances are, they are missing you like crazy too and will do anything to help you manage your feelings.
Are you worried about moving out? What kind of fears do you have? Let me know in the comments below. Like and follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. XOXO