There’s an ocean between us,
You know where to find me.
Just reach out and touch me,
I feel you in my own heart…
It feels like forever,
But I’ll always remember
You’re only an ocean away.
Sarah Brightman, “Only An Ocean Away”
For the past week, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster that I’ve internally begged to get off of. Due to a toxic case of perpetual homesickness, coupled with, I’m sure, exhaustion and bouts of loneliness, my thought processes have ranged from “oh my God, I’m in France!” to “Oh. My. God. I’m in France.” While I understand that home is a part of you, while I’ve told myself that I’ve had the strength and courage to follow through with a dream, there are moments where I feel unnecessarily weak and very, very far away. In the span of things, two more weeks away will seem like an instant, but feeling the pangs of homesickness, it feels like a lifetime before I can hug my family and hold my dog even closer.
Although I do feel emotionally drained and under-confident and not at all courageous at times, I’ve never really felt ashamed of these emotions. I already know that I’m incredibly sensitive, to the point where one person has even called me an empath. I don’t know how true that is, but I do know that I feel things very, very acutely. Honestly, though, this is a huge part of who I am, and I don’t know if I would ever want it to change.
Because while I’m incredibly emotional (and terribly homesick), I’ve also found that I have a strength, working with determination and resilience and coupled with the love of my family and the support of my friends, to get through it.
Leaving home has always been hard for me, but having the courage to follow through and not giving in and turning back has been the source of some of my proudest moments. When I went to France for the first time, I felt an incredible hole in my heart as I left my family, but I told myself that I would learn and have fun, and when I came back, I was a better person for the experience. I was changed. When I went to college I had panic attack after panic attack before finally forcing myself to adjust; ultimately, I made some of my closest friends and succeeded in ways I had never imagined. I had grown.
But for me, this is the biggie — immersed in a different culture, an ocean away from the people I care about so dearly, away from the familiar for three weeks and utterly on my own…This is where that homesickness comes back in full force, where tears come every night as I think about the place that has always meant the most to me.
This is where anxiety becomes overwhelming; where I fight or take flight and where I almost ran home.
This is so hard for me to write because I don’t feel like the strong and independent adult I’m supposed to be, like the confident go-getter I really thought I was. Last night, I wanted to go home. And I cried to my Mom and Dad, who sympathized with me, encouraged me, reminded me that I’m always able to work through these moments and grow, but supported any decision I would make. And I spoke with the owner, who told me that I had already gotten this far, that the first week is always the hardest, that I had a positive attitude and that would help me through it. And I sought solace from my friends, who reminded me of my strength, told me to stop living inside my head so much (easier said for a writer) and to view this as a lifetime experience on which I can look back and be proud.
Hindsight is always 20/20. And while I wish I was at that point, safe and sound at home and hugging my dog like Elmyra, I know that I still have so much to experience and so far to go.
And a lot more to learn about myself.