I left home at 19, moving from Eastern Europe to UK for university. I left to take my chance at a better life.
It wasn’t always an easy or straightforward journey. In fact, at times it was bumpier than I could ever imagine.
But overall it was a journey of self-discovery, of taking chances and most importantly, of growing up in the most real sense of the word.
I laughed, I cried, I travelled, worked hard and learned so much about the world and people around me.
Initially, UK felt like a foster home away from my real home, as is normal when you’ve just left your childhood household. My friends became my adoptive family, one that I could knowingly choose rather than be ‘stuck with’.
And then, somewhere along the way, UK became my home. The home where I felt like I belonged to more than I ever did in my home country.
A place where I’d lived for almost a decade of my young adult life. One that I couldn’t imagine leaving anytime soon.
That is, until this time last year when my partner and I decided to accept a 1-year job in the US. There’s been enough time to get used to the idea, and for it to slowly but surely sink in.
But that doesn’t mean the prospect of this new chapter in our lives hasn’t come with its own set of emotional challenges.
As a grown-up, leaving your home should be easier. In our late 20s we’re more mature than before, financially independent, excited to do more, know more, be more.
We’re the product of good education and years of work and struggles, that have given us a good enough incentive to take more risks as well as better opportunities that come our way.
In other words, we’re well equipped to get going when the job calls. And it’s normal that everyone wants a better life.
Speaking from experience, nobody leaves their home/‘foster’ country because they’re doing well, or to pursue a worse life. They do it for change or to get a decent/better job.
In theory, leaving home should become easier the older you get. But it doesn’t.
Every place you settle down in comes with its own set of special people that make life worth living.
It brings about the memories that take shape when you’re busy worrying and planning your future.
It contains the failures and achievements that make one proud or strive to do even better.
The reality is that we grow roots in every place where we live for long enough, some more visible than others.
After a while, we complain a lot about the place that becomes so familiar that we see every kink that otherwise would go unnoticed.
We ponder how exciting it would be if we moved somewhere else, that is nicer, sunnier, richer or better in whatever way we want it to be.
We daydream about it, yearn for some sort of change, because of the natural trait that is human nature.
But then that moment of change arrives. And you’re stood there, frozen in a moment in time where your past and present are feeding your ever-growing nostalgia, while your future whimsically dangles in front of your eyes.
And in that moment, so many emotions collide, and all of a sudden you feel uprooted. You don’t really belong anywhere anymore.
Not in the childhood home you spent 18 years of your life. Not in the home away from home where you spent a decade growing up.
And you certainly don’t belong to your future home — a place that you will only be comfortable with when you actually establish your own roots.
So you’re stuck in a state of limbo, not quite ready to let go of the life you’re about to leave behind, and still not fully ready to embrace the whirlwind of change that the next stage in your life will bring.
In moments like this, I find it useful to find gratitude in all aspects of my life, from the friends and memories I’ve gained to the lessons I’ve learned in the past decade, all of which I’m leaving behind.
All that’s left to do really is to:
- hope for the best for the next adventure that is coming my way
- never forget all the wonderful people that I was blessed to have encountered so far
- and accept that I will be leaving a part of me behind, hopefully for a better, happier future self