I’m 28 and I still get homesick – and there’s nothing wrong with that

I rarely talk to anyone about this feeling (Picture: Izzie Price)

I didn’t grow up on the Isle of Wight, but it’s where my parents have lived for the past six years — and their home is my favourite place in the world.

I love living with my friends in London, but there are days when I ache for my parents’ kitchen: all of us arguing over how long you should cook rice for while someone tries to establish if anyone’s fed the dog yet; the January rain hammering on the window and the radio flickering in and out of static.

It’s the little, ordinary things that I ache for; the tiny, quotidian moments that make up the place I call home. 

My homesickness often feels physical. It makes my insides stiffen and loosen in equal measure; my ribs constrict and my throat tightens, while my stomach unravels like a loose thread on a jumper. I feel completely adrift, like I’ve been picked up and deposited somewhere I don’t belong.

It doesn’t take much; a quick phone call with my mum while we’re on our respective walks — me in the park near my house, her walking the dog in the woods near hers — and the homesickness trickles over me like a lukewarm shower. 

I rarely talk to anyone about this feeling; instead, I’ll hang up the phone and try to focus on the good things immediately surrounding me at that moment (of which there are nearly always plenty).

Sometimes, I can successfully distract myself. At other times, the homesickness persists — a determined, roiling weight in my stomach that doesn’t stop me living my daily life, but which I carry around with me nevertheless. 

My homesickness has only grown sharper and more visceral in adulthood (Picture: Izzie Price)

Homesickness is a feeling usually attributed to children at sleepovers or students during those first few days at university. But I’m living proof that adults can experience homesickness, too.

There’s no age limit on who can long for the place and the people they call home; in fact, my homesickness has only grown sharper and more visceral in adulthood. 

I went to boarding school, and I often the yearning I felt to go back with my parents as they said their goodbyes and drove off was excruciating — but for me, that rarely lasted more than a few hours. There wasn’t any time to focus on hankering for my childhood bedroom at school. We were all surrounded by our peers all the time, with rarely more than a few minutes alone at any given time (if that). The distractions were endless.

But it’s not like that in London. If I’m left with a spare evening or a free Sunday, my thoughts are free to tumble around my head, and I feel myself longing for the place I feel happiest: the place I feel like the truest, most uninhibited version of myself; the place where I feel every muscle in my body gradually relax, like I’m slipping into a hot bath.

Thanks to popular culture like Friends, we’re often sold the idea that our twenties are the best, most independent years of our lives. It’s the time when we can finally create a life for ourselves in our own image; the time when our friends become our family.

Of course, this is often very true; and I’m not suggesting that I spend every waking minute of my life in London longing for the Isle of Wight. I love my friends and all that London offers, and most of the time I’m very happy.

But I often don’t find it easy living away from my parents and their home; partly because I’m embarrassed by how homesick I get.

My parents’ home in the Isle of Wight is my favourite place in the world (Picture: Izzie Price)

It isn’t something to be ashamed about, but I am anyway. I’m a grown woman, with rent and bills and the freedom to go out and get drunk on a Tuesday night if I want to. I shouldn’t be getting homesick: right? 

Wrong. Age has nothing to do with it.

Homesickness isn’t something we just ‘grow out of’. If there’s a particular place in the world in which you feel safe and wholly, unapologetically yourself, it’s normal to ache for it when you’re not there — especially when your day-to-day responsibilities and a worry of spreading Covid to your loved ones mean you often don’t know when you’ll be able to go there again (I repeatedly remind myself of how lucky I am to be able to travel back to my home at all).

Over the years, I’ve started to speak more to my friends about the homesickness I often feel. This is something that Covid has, bizarrely, helped with — I’ve spent a lot of time living at my parents’ house during lockdowns so I feel more comfortable now telling my friends that I often miss it.

But like anything else, I can’t take my own advice. I wouldn’t think there was anything strange about it if a friend told me they were feeling homesick; but when it comes to my own experience, I frequently doubt and judge it.

Luckily, my friends have repeatedly told me there no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed when it comes to missing home. And I’m slowly starting to believe them. 

It’s OK to feel untethered when you’re away from the place where you feel you most belong. It’s OK to feel anxious when you don’t know when you’ll next be able to journey back to the place that makes you feel safer than anywhere else on earth.

And it’s OK to miss home, whatever ‘home’ means to you. 

The stories told by the aforementioned popular culture often depict 20- and 30-something adults who are blissfully thankful to have thrown off the shackles of their parents’ homes and to be creating a new life for themselves.

Of course, it’s healthy for all of us to carve out our own paths and to seek out new life experiences, and many people thrive on this.

But it’s also perfectly normal to find yourself longing for the environment that makes you feel centred and cared for.

I’m only just starting to embrace it as part and parcel of who I am — but I fully intend to keep reminding myself of the normality of these feelings. Because adults get homesick, too.

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