As a twenty something, I’m often plagued by moments of self doubt. Doubts that make me feel like a perpetual ball of potatoness. Now before you roll out the pep talk, hear me out.
I’m turning 23 in two weeks. I’ve lived 21 years of my life in Delhi, the capital of my home country, India. I’ve spent almost all of my life surrounded by friends and family. But last year…I did something I never imagined I could do. I left behind my entire life in Delhi and moved to a new country, with new people and new culture. I was suddenly exposed to this new way of life that was both accepting and challenging me at the same time. I spent the first couple of months suffering from the “impostor syndrome” and once that passed…it just got worse.
I remember days when it felt like getting out of bed was the hardest thing I have ever done. People associate so much glamour with moving to the states albeit for education but still. And, don’t get me wrong. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that I have been given and my journey in this country. But..a part of me ALWAYS misses home. Days when I wake up to complete and utter silence only to realize that my mom’s not around to playfully nag me for over sleeping. When my dad doesn’t come back home with a packet of samosas and jalebis for us to gorge. When my masi isn’t around to talk me into the night and share stories with me. And it doesn’t stop at that.
I miss the smell of rain in my balcony when the park behind my house seemed to come alive, in the monsoons. The weird car rides I’ve had with my best friend where we blasted loud music and sang along and stopped only to stuff our face with fries. SO MANY sessions of personal therapy with people I love in cars and roads over a plate of momos. And here I am. At 23, independent…self sufficient and somehow still craving the touch of …home.
I miss coming home to a bustling house with the smell of my mother’s daal filling the rooms. I miss watching stupid movies with my best friend and breaking down in front of her when I felt overwhelmed with the world around me. I miss holding my masi and hugging the life out of her. I miss seeing my dad and knowing I’ll always have someone to love and care for and vice versa. The truth is…I miss being a child. I miss being taken care of. As an adult I am almost always expected to have my shit together. To have research work done for lab meetings, to know what I am learning in class. To NEVER feel lost…or sad…or hopeless. Don’t get me wrong, I have met wonderful people here, who love me deeply and go out of their way to show me the same. But somehow…it never feels the same as lying down on my mom’s lap after a long, hard day.
My stupid worries about boys and my appearance has been replaced by more serious worries about my career and the life that I want to build for myself. I’m ALWAYS unsure. Even when you look at me and I have my bravest face on…yes, even then. I’m scared. And lost. As most people my age are I think. The thing with independence is it’s wonderful. I thoroughly enjoy the feeling of being capable of doing what I want to do..when I want to do. It’s VERY liberating. But in some ways..I always miss the emotional dependence. The ability to express your truest, rawest self without feeling like you’re going to be judged is the best place you can be when you feel vulnerable. The RnR that only some home cooked meals and your best friend’s hugs can offer..is irreplaceable.
When I first got here and expressed all of this to a now very dear friend of mine, he gave me a very important piece of advice. He said, “None of us have our shit together. All we can ever do is fake it until we make it.” And I think that is what I am doing right now. Beyond the “glamour” and “excitement” of moving away from home lies the underlying truth…as an international student, where you need to take a 16 hours flight to get home…you’ll always feel lonely. You’ll miss your friends…even when you’re sick of telling them that. You’ll miss your family even more. And most of all, you’ll miss the sense of belonging and familiarity. But..that’s okay. Give in to it. Feel it. Come home, lie down and breathe. And then when you wake up the next day, like he said” Fake it till you make it”.