It’s me again; hope you’re doing well. As of now I am a senior in high school, and after I graduate I’m moving from New Jersey to North Carolina for college. Now I do love NC. In fact I’m here right now as school is remote and I can still attend online. My parents are retiring in a beautiful home at St. James Plantation and have made many friends there which I get on with. I love the little town of Southport that’s nearby, and the cute little beaches and local restaurants and stores all about. I’m also quite looking forward to college, as I’ve visited several campuses already, and though I know I may still be virtual, I’m excited for the opportunity to grow and learn more about myself. My boyfriend is even going to be moving down here from Illinois too, and although we’ll still be a few hours away, it’s better than being states apart. All things considered, things are going good for the most part.
However, I can’t shake that feeling of sadness when I think of living here. I’ve lived in New Jersey all my life. It’s where I spent my childhood years and has shaped me so far as the person I am now. I love the pretty forests and rolling hills, I love the winding roads through the countryside, I love how the towns have such a rustic, nostalgic feel, and the comfort I experience from knowing them so well. I love the friends and memories I’ve made there, and I’m glad I had the childhood I did. I know I’m going to have to leave a lot of that and more behind, and I’m not sure how to cope with it. I’m not deeply depressed mind you, but the last time I moved was when I was 9, and it was only 45 minutes away. With how long you’ve been around, I think it’s safe to assumed you’ve moved at least a few times, as I know it’s a common experience. What should I do to help accept and (try to) heal these emotions?
Galaxy (age 17)
* * *
Nice to hear from you again and thanks for the update. To answer your question, what you are experiencing is simply nostalgia for the past. Yes, I have moved a LOT. I was born in Boston and have moved nine times, living in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and California. So, I know something about moving.
The bad thing about moving a lot is that you never have a town or city you really feel is your home town. If someone asks me my home town, I say where I am now, and if they say, "No, where did you grow up?" I say "all over" because no place feels like home to me.
My first word of advice: Count yourself lucky that you grew up in a very stable environment, and the result is you will always feel like New Jersey is your true home. That's nice. That's really really nice. As you get a bit older, you will appreciate that more. And that treasure trove of memories of the two homes you lived in, your family, friends, schools, that is always a part of you, and that is beautiful because it sounds like you had a very good childhood (message to Galaxy's parents: Good job, you two!).
Now you are in North Carolina, and it appears you like that, which is super duper! You have a whole world to explore, new friends to meet, new experiences to take in, new things to learn. The thing about growing older is you have two choices in this regard: you can stay in your little home town all your life, grow old and die there; or you can go out into the world and have new experiences and meet new people, which will open your eyes a lot to different points of view and make you smarter, to boot. There is nothing wrong about being a homey all your life, but it has the very real danger of making one too colloquial and too set in their ways. My mother used to tell a story about her first time in Abilene, Texas, to meet my father's family. Now, my mom had already traveled quite a bit at this point, including Europe. She asked a few of the Abilene residents if they had traveled, too, and they replied invariably, "Why travel when we have everything we need here?" Well, sure, you have food and home and church and friends all there, but you don't know anything about people who are different from you, and that can make you very narrow-minded and inflexible to change, and this is not healthy. (And no, watching TV is not just as good as traveling). Do you know what stays in one place all its life? A vegetable. Animals move. Be an animal.
Cherish your past memories; stay in touch with the friends you can (most people lose touch, but that is up to you and them; you still have the memories); remember the lessons learned and use them as information that can help you with the new challenges you face today. Someday, you will leave North Carolina (but probably come back to see your parents) to get a job or marry or just explore, and then you can look back at North Carolina and your college days and appreciate and learn from them as well.
The solution to your problem is attitude. Do not look at your yearning for Jersey as something that has to be healed or accept. No. The fact you feel that way indicates you had a great past and you should always love it. You don't have to fix that because there is nothing wrong with it. There is nothing to "heal" from. You're not wounded. You're fine.
Go out and explore life! Yay for you! Time to get excited about the future and all it holds!
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.