ON HOMESICKNESS

A lovely reader named Kara emailed me asking if I would ever write a post on coping with homesickness and I thought it was a great idea. I always love hearing from you guys about topics you’d like to see me cover on Design Darling so please don’t hesitate to tweet me (@mackenziehoran), snapchat me (@designdarling), or email me if you have any requests!

If you’re new to Design Darling, here’s a little background for you: I grew up in Connecticut, went to Bucknell, lived in New York after graduation, and moved to Dallas a little over a year ago with my now fiancé Will. My parents still live in Connecticut and my three siblings are currently working on Nantucket for the summer. Once the summer is over, my sister Reilly will return to Brooklyn (we missed each other in New York by just three months), my brother Grayson is going to move into the city, and my brother Camden will return to college in Ohio.

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{The whole crew at Camden’s high school graduation last spring}

Homesickness is no doubt the hardest thing I’ve dealt with since moving to Dallas. Moving in with Will was a happy transition and making friends in our new city has been surprisingly easy and seriously fun. It’s strange because I worried I’d really miss living in New York — and I do miss certain things, like the energy in the streets and friends who still live there and some of our favorite restaurants — but in general Dallas has been a great move for us. I love being able to afford a car, office space, help for my business, etc., all things that have made me feel more like an adult and less like the transient twenty-something I really am.

But as kind as Dallas has been to me, there’s no getting around the fact that I miss my family like crazy. It’s a feeling that ebbs and flows, stronger on some days than others, but always there in some capacity. Some days I’m in love with Texas and begging my family to pick up and move here and other days I’m so homesick for the east coast I’m calling my mom and fighting back tears.

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{With my mom on Nantucket last summer}

I did a lot of the latter (ask my poor parents, who I’m pretty sure wanted to start screening my calls) when I lived in San Francisco briefly after graduation but I’d like to say I’ve gotten better in the five years since. There are a lot of things that separate the two experiences — crashing on someone’s couch alone in San Francisco vs. buying a house in my fiancé’s hometown — but I wanted to share a few of the things that help me when I’m feeling particularly homesick in case they’re helpful to some of you experiencing the same.

When I’m feeling super homesick, Will is just the best and will ask me if it’s time to book a trip to see my people. The trip doesn’t need to be that weekend or even that month — often it’s just having a date on the calendar to look forward to and being able to call my parents and let them know we’ll be seeing them soon. Whether you’re able to make it home once a month or just twice a year, having a date set is so much better than not knowing the next time you’ll make it back. We try to plan in advance but a couple weeks ago I booked a last minute trip and it wound up being just what I needed. We also had my parents, Grandy, my sister, and my cousin and her boyfriend down to Dallas for our engagement party in February — it’s fun to switch off who’s traveling where, not unlike you’d do in a long distance relationship.

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{Loved having everyone in Dallas this winter!}

Obviously travel can get expensive, though thankfully I’ve found flights from Dallas to New York for as little as $99 if I plan far enough in advance. Something that we’re doing as a family since my parents sold our childhood house is renting a house in a different place each Christmas and all getting ourselves there instead of buying each other presents — the time together is the gift, especially as we get older and family members are spread out everywhere from Boston to San Diego. This is definitely something I hope we can do more of as my siblings get older and start making their own money — picking a destination and a date and then all finding a way to make it work so it’s not just back and forth to Dallas or New York every couple months.

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{My sister sends the best throwback photos #coolpinkshoes}

Google Hangout is my new best friend. If you haven’t used it, I personally prefer it to Skype and love that the whole family can join in (and take advantage of all the filters and sound effects, not unlike Snapchat). We try to do a family call around once a month and it’s fun to see my sister’s apartment or my brother’s dorm room as if we’re actually all in the same place. I always end the hangout with a grateful heart just seeing all my people healthy and happy.

Group text threads are an obvious answer to homesickness and an easy way to check in daily without the expense of a plane ticket or the time commitment of a Google Hangout. I wouldn’t say I’m the best texter but I find myself laughing out loud at random stories or old photos from my siblings, even if it takes everyone a day or two to respond.

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{Hosting a blogger event with Amanda and Ali}

This is a more personal observation but I imagine it could apply to lots of you who are in similar situations living far away from your family. I find that the times I’m experiencing the most homesickness are when I’ve been spending too much time alone, whether because I’m working late nights or Will’s out of town one weekend. It makes sense that feeling lonely and feeling homesick go hand in hand — and typically it’s these moments when I’m least inclined to make plans and be social — but it’s also the most important time to rally and leave the house and get out of my own head. I spent way too much time alone when I lived in San Francisco, missing my then boyfriend and calling my parents every chance I got. But now living with my best friend in a place that feels less temporary, I’ve made much more of an effort to put down roots here and spend time both with Will’s family and friends we’ve made here. It’s amazing what grabbing lunch or scheduling a workout class with a girlfriend can do to snap me out of a funk — and it’s way better to call my parents and tell them how much fun I’m having than it is for them to hear me whine about how much I miss home.

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{Having a little too much fun with Amy}

Anyway, I obviously don’t have a cure for homesickness (I wish!) but I hope this gave you a little personal insight into my transition to living in Dallas and maybe helped a few of you see that you’re so not alone when it comes to missing your crew. If you have any words of wisdom on coping with homesickness, I’d love to hear from you. Sorry this was a NOVEL. xx

P.S. If you enjoyed this more personal post, here are a few similar ones I’ve written:

21 thoughts on “ON HOMESICKNESS

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  1. I’m someone who is homesick in the opposite direction! I am from Texas and have been living in Connecticut for the past few years. Sometimes I desperately miss home (this is my first year where I didn’t go back in mid-April and will just be home for Christmas), but I keep busy to keep me up. Sometimes I love the east coast (sometimes I hate it…how do people deal with snow?!?) but man, I would love to have a good Tex Mex taco once in awhile.

  2. I love this post and love seeing a little deeper into your persona life. I dealt with homesickness when I moved to Utah after college to do the whole “ski bum” this and didnt last very long. I’m from Rhode Island so being land locked with no ocean in sight was the strangest feeling and I would go to Marshalls to feel more at home. Safe to say I was home in 2 months haha I also have a very strong group of girlfriends in Boston that was hard to leave. Thanks again for sharing!1

    xox Tess | Sequins are the New Black

  3. Thanks for this post! I was born and raised in RI but moved to SC for grad school, and then met my boyfriend (who is from SC) and stayed here. I always thought I would move home right after school, and some days I’m really sad to be so far from my whole family (especially during the summer when they are all having fun on the beach!). However, I have been feeling much less homesick since we bought a house and have really started to settle in and become involved in our community. I think having a stake in my new city (I work for a local non-profit) has helped to make me feel more at peace with being far away!

  4. What a lovely post!. My daughter just graduated from your alma mater, and is off to school in Scotland next month. I’m certain that your piece on homesickness will come in handy for the both of us. Every time you write about your family, I think how lucky you all are to have each other!
    Thank you for your insights!

  5. Thank you for your openness Mackenzie! My husband and I both grew up in the same small town in Michigan and now live in New York City where we are lucky to be doing what we want and be surrounded by friends. However, both being from Michigan and sharing so many people and memories there really tugs at me sometimes! I was watching Brooklyn on a plane ride a few weeks back and cried the whole time – I could so relate to the hardships of growing up and being your own person! But I love my life and I love that it’s all mine. Thanks for sharing, I love following along!

  6. Seattle girl with (now) New York City family here! I hear you loud and clear. It’s hard for me every single day. But it has led me to realize that a) I’m so lucky to have something that I miss so much and b) I need to think seriously about where I ultimately want to be. I love the adventure I’m on, but I think I will need to be closer to family when it is time for me to really settle down. I’m happy for you, too, that you have a family with whom you’re so close that means so much to you! And we’re both lucky that we have amazing guys who can act as our in-person, everyday family in the meantime.

    Looking forward to reading more personal posts in the future!

  7. Mackenzie,

    I love your more personal posts, and this one was no exception. I can relate to the sentiments expressed here–I graduated from college in May and then moved from the Boston area to San Francisco for work a month later. As much fun as I’m having in my new city, I’m facing some of the same challenges you experienced. Great advice about getting out of your own head when you’re extra homesick and spending time with your new friends. It’s amazing how much a fun outing can brighten your mood!

    I’ve found that Snapchat has helped me cope with my homesickness. Like you, I struggle with constant texting since I work full-time, but Snapchat allows me to engage with my family and friend’s lives back home in an easy and fun way. I enjoy sending them quick snaps when I’m thinking of them and replying to snaps/stories that make me smile, as well as watching their stories before bed.

  8. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me! I’m moving from Kansas City to Chicago on Friday and my emotions have run the gamut this week. Even though I’ve lived 1-2 hours from my family over the past four years, knowing I’m not just a day trip away is going to be hard. Tucking these tips in my back pocket for when the inevitable sinks in 🙂

  9. Mackenzie, I knew you were from CT, but I had no idea that you went to Bucknell! I am from MA, went to Dickinson and moved to Dallas two years ago with my now husband ( from Ridgefield) by way of San Fran. It’s funny where life takes you. We should start a preppy east coast club for all of the transplants moving here!

  10. Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve been living abroad in China for the last eight months and this was just what I needed. 🙂 I’m excited to try your recommendations and am happy to see that you’re doing well in Dallas!

  11. When I moved away from my family, I lived somewhere where the cell signal was crappy. So, I would write letters to my family. My mom and my sisters like to write, but my dad doesn’t. Not big on reading either. So for him, I would keep it short, like a postcard. It helped with my homesickness.