The painful reality of living far from your loved ones during holidays, birthdays and festivity days…
I usually don’t miss home. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my loved ones, I miss some aspects of being in my own country. But that is not a problem in my daily life. Days go by without thinking about it. But this drastically changes during holidays and festivity days when I find myself alone in a foreign land: parents birthday, a friend’s wedding, a friend’s graduation party, my friend giving birth to her first son, Christmas, and the list goes on… It is sad when you live thousands of miles away, and you want nothing more than teletransport back just for that day. You want to be there for them [with them], you want to continue to be part of their history.
These days are the hardest. It is hard to realize life goes on without you. And life will continue without you. Dinners, graduations, weddings, parties, memories, inside jokes… Your friends will date and break up, give birth, go on trips, get married, have dinners, and you will follow everything by Social Media. You will wish for nothing more than to be there with them to share these special moments, and to support them when they need you, but you will not. Your parents and family will get together to celebrate holidays without you, and you will have to deal with it. They will miss you, you will miss them, but nothing will change the fact that you are not there. This might sound obvious, but it is hard when you come to the realization that life goes on without you, plans continue to happen without you.
But, on holidays, festivity days, milestones in friend’s and families’ life, it is normal to question everything: why am I doing this? Why am I far from my loved ones? Why didn’t I pick another career? Is it all worth it?… I don’t know the answers for these questions, but what I know is this: I love what I do and all the things I’ve seen and done, and we can’t have it all. Every decision has a down side, every good opportunity will come at some expense. Nothing comes easy in life, and unfortunately missing out important days is the down side of opting to pursue your dreams far away. These days are painful, lonely and often maddening… but then, the next day you will wake up in a different country, with a new challenge, while living something completely unexpected. So maybe, in the end it is all worth it?
To remember why you are doing this when you are the only one missing your family’s Christmas celebration is absolutely devastating. You can’t attend every party, you can’t be there for your friends in every difficult moment. But one thing is for sure: you will stop taking your family, and milestones celebration for granted. So when you actually make it back for them, you will enjoy every second of it. You will take advantage of every person, every dinner, and every little thing that you usually would not care that much about. You will also think more deeply about these festivities, and the meaning of these celebration days. IF before you took mother’s day just as a commercial holiday, after spending years apart from your mother you finally realize that this Holiday is much more than just a commercial one. Before moving abroad, a wedding was just a boring event you had to attend, but after you missed tons of them it becomes the demonstration of love by two people that you care about – and you are fortunate enough to be witnessing it! Everything will be more exciting, every detail will be important because you will not take things for granted anymore. To share these important moments with your loved ones become so rare, that every single thing becomes exciting.
But the struggle is real, so here it goes some tips on how to make missing holidays and festivity days more bearable:
- Don’t dwell on what you are ‘missing out’, don’t think about what you would be doing back home. This is the most important lesson I’ve learned over the years. You are here now, and nothing will change that. Focus on what you have, focus on what you are gaining. Focus on the good things about where you are. Focus on what you love about your current life. Focus on everything you’ve learned; how much you grew up professionally and personally.
- In national holidays, avoid restaurants and public places on your own. Unless you are with a group of friends, stay home, go to a park, go to the gym… Seeing other people surrounded by family can bring you memories and take you places you don’t want to go.
- If you have a family who ‘adopts’ you over the holidays, make sure you will feel comfortable there. Sometimes attending festivities with a family that is not yours might trigger unhappiness. So make sure that’s what you want to do. Otherwise explain the situation, I am sure they will understand. Some people prefer stay alone in this days, others prefer to be surrounded by people. You just have to find what makes you feel better.
- Distract yourself, your mind might play tricks on you so you have to be smarter
- Technology: take advantage of Whatsapp, Facetime, Skype. It makes you feel closer to your friends and family!