Homesickness

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Homesickness

By Hanna Sammanthan Yead 9K

Normally I don’t like going places I’m not familiar with. I much prefer staying at home over a crazy adventure. This caused quite a problem for me because recently it was camp week for Year Nine. Camp can be a pretty worrying experience, at least for me. What if I forget my toothbrush? What if I’m late and miss the bus? What if my bag gets lost? The list of worries go on and on. However, there’s one thing that I never think about until I’m wide awake at night staring at the ceiling…

I am incredibly homesick.

I don’t realise it until all the activities are done and my friends are fast asleep. It’s one of my main issues with camp: missing home. I asked some of my other friends whether they get homesick, most of the answers were shrugs and “not really”s. This got me wondering about why we get homesick and how it affects some people more than others.

Homesickness isn’t a new phenomenon, we see mentions of it throughout history. For instance: in Homer’s “The Odyssey”, we see Athena arguing with Zeus to send Odysseus home because he’s homesick. So homesickness isn’t some strange illness that only a select few suffer from. It’s not even an illness, contrary to the name. Separation anxiety is more of an illness than homesickness. Wikipedia says it’s “the inappropriate fear and anxiety of the separation between the individual and a person to whom they are attached”. That sounds like a more intense version of homesickness, but instead of missing home you’re missing a specific person. It’s bad enough that you feel upset, but it’s not quite a mental illness.

So what is it?

Essentially it’s a longing; a need for a familiar setting. It’s when your brain is uncomfortable with the changes it’s going through. It’s not so much missing your home as it is longing for comfort.

Why do we get homesick? The answer is fairly obvious: being around familiar things and people makes us feel more secure. Having a routine and talking to the same people everyday puts us at ease. If our routine is broken, we can’t handle it. I’m not literally missing my house when I go on camp, I’m missing my family and the things I’m used to. But that still doesn’t explain why some of my friends don’t really get homesick, it’s not like they don’t have a routine or a family to miss.

The experts say that homesickness is about our need for love and security, we long for those things, things that are usually linked with the idea of “home”. But because my friends don’t get homesick doesn’t mean that they don’t long for those things too. If you don’t get homesick, it doesn’t mean you’re an evil child that doesn’t care about their parents. It just means you can adjust easily. Not everyone exactly likes having a routine. Personally, it is comforting, but for others it might feel infuriating. The simple answer is that some people just like to travel and can adjust to wildly different environments easier than others. That doesn’t mean my friends are mentally stronger than me and don’t miss anything from home, it just means we’re different.

Homesickness has been a thorn in humanities’ side for a long time – the feeling of longing for the routine that our bodies have grown accustomed to. It’s not quite a mental illness, but it is a huge inconvenience if you’re trying to enjoy your holiday. However, some people do not suffer from this. Don’t get them wrong though, kids who don’t get homesick aren’t naughty kids that rebel against their parents. People who aren’t as affected by homesickness just can adjust quicker than people who do.

So, the next time your friends aren’t missing their parents on camp, just remember that you and them aren’t the same person and your brains work very differently from one another.

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