When I had initially stepped out of my comfort zone, to explore the world, get more educated and find myself, I found myself getting disillusioned as life never resembled any of the famous sit-coms. And neither did it resemble any of the movies that inspired me to travel the word. I am not writing this article to just prove how disillusioned every bit of entertainment is. I am writing this because, I prepared for a life on a different country and continent based on pop-culture. And no matter how many books I read and how many advices I listened, there was one thing that no one ever mentioned or prepared me for.
The unassailable guilt. The guilt of leaving your someday-would-be-aging parents, your large family, your ailing grandparents and your friends behind. I thought that I would get used to missing home, being away from the tender-love-and-care and learn to survive without home-cooked meal. And on some level that is true enough. I did learn how to survive. But that never stopped or dampened the “yearning” for the comfortable or known.
I lost my grandmother a few months back. She was ailing for some time and my family did everything to prepare me. I even made a month vacation back home and spent as much time as I could with her. A part of me knew that I might not meet her the next time I make a trip home. But even then when the news came, it did more than devastate me. I felt like I lost a part of my body and was squirming to go back home. Prior commitments, upcoming exams and the inability to preserve a body for an extended period made me unable to catch the next flight out. And as time went by, my pain lessened. But my guilt did not.
Now, if my parents do not answer my phone, or my family doesn’t facetime with me often enough, I have palpitations. I regularly ask about every individual, checking off names in my head, maintaining a health record of my own. A minor health issue with any of the member of my family sends me into a frenzy. I have started saving every available penny so as to not depend on the family much. And the guilt resides like a deep-rooted unmovable weed.
Why do I feel guilty? Making this trans-Atlantic journey was my decision and has been backed by my family. I had a good offer and was confident that this decision will be good for my career. Then does that mean I am guilty for my success? Or am I feeling guilty for the price I have to pay for it? I came across many people around me who are going through the same thing as me, and they all feel the same way.
It made me wonder how people deal with this. How can I make sure that I am there for my family and yet focus on my career at the same time? Virtual reality might progress to a level in the future where a 3D representation of you can be made available. Or maybe I should have taken a leaf out of Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s book and get a bot made that I can connect via FaceTime. And then it hit me, people have been leaving their home in search of opportunities, jobs, lifestyle and academics for ages. Before the advent of internet, how did these people survive? It probably took them months to even hear back from their families and none of the news that they got were real time.
I know being a neurotic cynic is not going to help me deal with the black hole of guilt in the pit of my stomach. But maybe sharing what I am feeling will make it bearable. Letting others like me know that they are not alone in this, will soothe my heart. And maybe, just maybe, I can learn a better way to cope with this and move forward. I have wonderful memories, sweet family pictures to keep me company and in case I do get lonely and unsure of whether I am doing the right thing, or made the correct decision, I remind myself of the last warm hug that my grandmother gave me and said, “Go for it. Make me proud.”