Homebird

As many of you will know, either from social media or even from reading this blog, I was lucky enough to start attending the University of Sussex in September. This goal, albeit less specifically,  is something I’ve been working towards for pretty much as long as I can recall… Or to be more precise for the past 7 years or so. To use the cliché; blood, sweat and tears were shed, (sometimes literally), on the (what felt like never-ending) journey to getting here. Perhaps it was naïve of me to think that all my problems would be solved upon my acceptance to university, but this has certainly not been the case…

The transition to this stage, moving out etc, seemed like one I would handle with ease to say the least. I’ve always considered myself to be fairly independent; walking myself to school from the age of 9, being left home alone to cook dinner, getting a job – I’ve basically been coming and going as I please for a long time. So on the day of the big relocation, unpacking my belongings and saying my farewells, I was surprised to find myself in what you might describe as a puddle of tears. Despite all this preparation for uni life and not once experiencing homesickness, I felt a longing to be able to shrug off this responsibility and independence. “Oh well”, I told myself, “after a while this feeling will subside, it’s just the initial shock of saying goodbye to my family”. However, I was very much mistaken…

Weeks followed and I found myself missing home more than ever, and worse, beating myself up for being such a pansy about it. How could someone as self-sufficient as I feel such a want for my home? Well, what I never considered is that perhaps these feelings don’t mean I’m weak or dependant upon people, perhaps missing home doesn’t have to mean that. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a family that I value as friends above all else; My mother and I chat about boys in the same way best friends would, my father is the best companion to watch ‘Glee’ or ‘Gilmore Girls’ with, my step-mother talks to me with all the honesty any pal ought to and my brother could make me laugh for hours with his strange and peculiar anecdotes. Would I be considered weak or dependant for missing my group of friends? I don’t think I would and I think that’s the issue – I don’t miss my family in the conventional sense of the phrase, I miss my best friends and I miss the comfort that comes with that.

Although I was fortunate enough to fall into a lovely group of individuals here at university, there’s something about the ease of a group of friends you’ve known for years that is missing. In many ways it feels as though I’ve known these people for far longer than I have, they make me laugh to no end, yet there are times when I’m brought back to the reality that we’ve been friends for nothing but  a mere few months. These people don’t know the ins and outs and ups and downs of my character: They don’t know that when they make a joke about self-harm, that hurts. They don’t know that telling me I’m “always grumpy” or “always sleepy” makes me crawl back into my shell. These are not things I can or should blame my new found friends for, these are things my friends and family alike back home would understand entirely and not call me “sensitive” for. People knowing me and my experiences is something I’ve simply taken for granted in the past, but when is the right time to introduce these little facts to new acquaintances? It seems peculiar to just bring up any odd issues like those aforementioned, yet at some point it’s going to be necessary.

In many ways university is just how I’d expected and hoped it would be: Meeting new people, going out until the early hours of the morning etc etc. However, something that seems to have been glossed over whenever people recount their student experiences, is the loneliness it can bring with it. Despite being surrounded by more people than ever before, I also feel more isolated than ever before. The warmth and simplicity of home is something I, for one, certainly underrated.

This is an issue, I imagine, can only be solved by the helpful process that is time. With time I’m sure these feelings of loneliness and anxiousness will grow to be few and far between, but nevertheless I think it’s important to realise that the transition to adulthood is not an easy one and I may not be quite as grown up as I initially thought…

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4 thoughts on “Homebird

  1. This is beautiful, Steph. I am plentifully touched at how you describe your relationships in your family. And gosh yes, you’ve nailed it, the surprise sadness that strikes in the first year of university, where we go to have the time of our lives and where we really do form strong bonds with people faster than anywhere I know of!! (I expect the army is similar.) How wise you are! I was never able to articulate even internally what was the matter, why the emptiness inside, when I was having so much fun? Hmm. Maybe I did have an inkling. I wrote crap poems to try and process stuff at that time. One was about a feeling of alienation from my new friends, the one line of which I remember was “You don’t really know me at all.” You are so right. Being deeply understood and loved is as important as food, and it takes time to build real relationships that nourish you to that level. Co-creating those relationships is the ongoing work of a lifetime! I hope your post triggers the start to something deeper than just fun there in Sussex. And if this is slow in materialising? Well, your family is only a message away.

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  2. Well for me you explained a long-standing myster! I remember throughout our first year at uni most of us went through horrible patches of nameless unhappiness, and from what I’ve been hearing it’s just the same now, usually somebody around who is feeling really down. Understanding why might lead to constructively moving forward, rather than just doing the usual numb it with alcohol student response.

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