Column: Homesickness is a trap
I don’t believe in homesickness.
I know it sounds harsh, but I don’t. People spend their entire lives wishing to get out of their hometowns, only to get to college and wish they could go back to the place that they hate.
It’s odd, really. There’s only one explanation to it: People are afraid of shaping their own destiny. During high school, we were all labeled by broad traits that determined the path we took for those four bleak years. And for the most part, we despise it; we hate being defined by other people. Our sense of self is pretty much non-existent because it was already decided for us.
Fast forward to college. The labels have been torn off and for the first time we’re blank slates. Being a blank slate is one of the most terrifying experiences we have as humans. As a blank slate, we don’t have anything that sets us apart from the crowd —we’re just another blank face in the sea of namelessness. We identify with nothing and everything at the same time.
In John Cheever’s short story, “The Swimmer," one of the characters says a line that really stands out to me.
“‘Homesickness is absolutely nothing,’ she said angrily. ‘It is absolutely nothing. Fifty percent of the people in the world are homesick all the time. But I don’t suppose you’re old enough to understand. When you’re in one place and long to be in another, it isn’t as simple as taking a boat. You don’t really long for another country. You long for something in yourself that you don’t have, or haven’t been able to find.’”
What we’re missing when we come to college is that label. We’re waiting for someone to put a stamp on our forehead and call us a nerd, jock, prep — whichever term loosely applies to us. We don’t know how to define ourselves and our destinies because we’ve never been given the chance to until now. We long to find our true selves.
Instead of wishing for what once was, I challenge you to pick up a piece of chalk and start drawing on your slate. Be the author of your own life and bring out what is truly within yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of homesickness. Don’t long for who you once were. Be excited for the future and the person who you are becoming.