I’d thought I’d let you know about a family member I talked about in this post last month. My oldest (17 years old) niece, who I’ll refer to again as “Em” for concerns of reference and anonymity, headed off on what would have been a 2-month-plus stay in Alaska. She headed up there the 2nd Monday in June to work at her uncles’ coffee shop a couple of hours or so outside of Anchorage. The plan, I presumed, was for Em to work and collect tips at the coffee shop while taking in some scenery and adventure every now and again.
Well, unfortunately, Em’s adventure has ended early. I texted Em’s mom, my little sister, last week asking how Em was doing in Alaska. Little Sis messaged me back saying that Em was heading back home to Wisconsin on the weekend. She did not elaborate further beyond only saying that Em was very homesick.
Hearing that Em was missing home reminded me of when I was in my own late teens/very early twenties and had graduated from high school. When I headed away from home for the first time, I had the worst case of fear and nervousness. But I toughed it out. I had to tough it out as… well, let’s just say I was in a situation out west where I couldn’t call up Mom and Dad and have them send a plane ticket home. And when I ventured away from home on my own a second time to venture into technical education, I had to tough it out again, not because I couldn’t leave this second predicament but because I believed that Mom and Dad wouldn’t be very welcoming had I headed back home right away (which mostly came to fruition after I made what was in retrospect a bad decision).
So, with my wisdom and experience, am I saying that Em should have toughened it out like I had/needed to? Definitely not. Em has one more year of high school ahead of her this fall — and at least one more year of knowing who she is, knowing what her talents are, and doing and learning right from wrong while having her parents as a backstop. I didn’t have that luxury when I first headed away from home; my mom and dad were mostly supportive, but only to an extent.
But I can definitely sympathize with what Em was feeling and going through in wanting to head back home. I’m still awfully proud of her (and feel the same for my 3 other nieces). I do hope that, though it ended early, she did have a good time up in Alaska; that she took with her a lot of (hopefully) good memories and experiences; and that it leads to her getting a better idea of the person she will be when she gets older.
I do also hope that Em knows that feeling homesick is okay every now and again; there’s no shame in longing so deeply for home when you’re so far way from it. That’s the message I asked my little sister to convey to Em when I messaged her over the weekend upon hearing that Em made it back from Alaska. That and a big hug from her loving uncle.