So you’re moving away from your family for the first time

I always knew I wasn’t meant for that small town life. As a teenager I would spend countless hours dreaming up plans for the cities I placed on my bucket list. I didn’t have much down in the way of criteria I just knew I had to be where all the action was. It’s amazing how at that age everything seems totally achievable and easy. And, it was easy — at first.

The moment I graduated from college I packed up my things and began my journey to a city life miles and hours away from all my friends and family. That first year I spent away from my family was incredibly difficult, but it was also very empowering. College felt like a security blanket and once it was removed I felt more exposed than ever. I was lucky to have roommates to lean on, but it’s not the same as having your mom or sister around to thoroughly annoy you. There were times I wanted to run home crying, but the teenager in me continued to whisper in my ear about how important it was for me to follow through on my plans.

It’s been eight years since I first moved to the city and now it’s totally familiar, to the point where I feel like I’ve always lived here. Balancing my new world while still trying to stay in tune with the old was a tricky level of adulting, but I eventually got the hang of it. That’s why I think it’s time I spread some wisdom on how to navigate these exciting, albeit challenging waters for my fellow small town guys and gals that are ready to miss their families from far, far away.

Keeping in touch takes work, but it’s worth it

Daily, weekly, or monthly phone calls to your parents, friends and even siblings become a part of your routine. It takes more work to schedule those now—you can’t just drop by the house—but it’s totally worth it. This also becomes a time where you actually appreciate your mom having a Facebook account, embarrassing posts and all. Texting is perfect because it keeps you up-to-date on all the little details. However, sometimes hearing the actual voice of someone you love is enough to pick you up on the days you are down so never be shy to call — a hundred times a month!

Create a routine and keep busy

So, it’s pretty scary to move to a brand new place. It’s even scarier when you don’t have a loved one to guide you. Instead of sitting in your apartment terrified of what to do next — get out there and do it. It could be as simple as grabbing a coffee and walking the park, or grabbing your roomies to hit up a local hangout. The fact of the matter is, getting out and doing things that make you happy will ultimately translate to your overall mood making you worry less about missing your family and more about what’s making you happy. Plus, your family will be so relieved you are having such a wonderful time living your big, beautiful life that they will worry less too.

Plan your vacation days wisely and leave room for family-jamming

Twenty-something life can mean time to travel and while that dream is an important one to pursue, balancing the time you can take off can be a bit of gamble when you live far from your family. At the beginning of the year I usually plan out how I want to utilize my vacation time. It’s important to plan ahead so you can arrange things with your family according to when they are free. The holidays act as the perfect space to extend a visit, but if that isn’t feasible you will definitely want to work something else out. Even if it’s just a quick weekend drop by, it’s worthwhile to get back your family and your roots.

Make the most of family in your current city

After I was settled in my surroundings and began to make new and wonderful friends, I realized just how valuable those relationships would be to me down the line. The more I invested in the new people I met the more I got back, and eventually our comfort levels aligned and the friendship become more like a family. I was lucky enough to come across some spectacular people who knew I was far from home and took me under their wing. It’s so important to find and recognize who these individuals are. If ever you are in a bind and being in the comfort your parent’s arms is not an option — you have another pair to come running to.

Remember why you moved in the first place

You are going to miss your family no matter where you go when you leave the nest. You could literally live down the street from them and you would still miss them. The reality is that after you graduate from college you quickly realize that you are now in full control of what you do. That’s why you owe it to yourself to be reminded of all the reasons you decided to move far away in the first place. Dealing with being away from your family is tough, but dealing with the regret of a missed opportunity could be so much worse.

[Image via Warner Bros.]

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