Going Home | Darling Magazine

You’ve graduated. Study abroad is over. You’re moving back home. The start of summer is often a time of transition and, for a lot of us, a time of returning home after a long absence.

I lived alone, very far from home for nearly 7 years. When I returned home for 5 months, to live with my grandmother, with my parents two flights of stairs below and my brother, sister-in-law, and all manner of cousins & relatives in a twenty-mile radius of a big city, you can imagine it took a bit of an adjustment.

Going home can be an emotional time, and I want us to embrace these two things: Going home may be difficult and going home is a beautiful thing.

Home is a strange in-between land where memories linger and new experiences that have molded us jockey for position with nostalgia and old habits. Let us strive to use the familiar as a catalyst for the future. Let us take what we’ve learned as a lens to our history, finding lessons and filling in holes along the way. Here are some of my tips:

  1. Realize that you’ve changed while you’ve been gone. And others may not like this. It is difficult to see someone come back changed when you haven’t been there for the process, especially if they aren’t on board with the changes. But trust yourself and trust your journey. Hold tight to the truth that you are your best advocate. This life you’ve been living? You’re doing a brilliant job, scars and all.
  2. Realize that things have changed while you’ve been gone. Bring a perspective of grace and gratitude home with you. Just as you’ve been on a journey that others might not understand, they have been on their own journeys, too. Seek to understand their stories, and you may even find you are on similar paths.
  3. Give yourself space to readjust. You don’t have to jump back into everything with two feet. In fact, you may find that old interests, possessions, and people you knew no longer add value to your life, and that it is time to let them go. Do so with a mind towards health, growth, and freeing up space in your heart for fresh things. Let the new growth take root.
  4. Dig in, and be present. You are home. You are here. And chances are, you have something to learn or finish during the time you are home. Learn, grow, finish what you’ve started…experience being home with open eyes and see what you are meant to see.
  5. Take as much time as you need. Take as much time as you need to learn what you need to learn. To find a new job. To heal your heart. To get as much of mom’s home cooking as you can. To take as many fishing trips with your dad as you can manage. To struggle with it all for as long as you need. To sit in the coffee shop where you wrote poetry all during high school and to think, “I want to write poetry again.” To go down by the water’s edge and to remember all of your heartaches from this place and to let them drift downstream, because you’ve grown apart from them.

And when the time comes, you’ll be able to say, “I went home. And it was difficult and it was beautiful and it is part of me.”

Image via That Kind Of Woman


  1. Wow. This is my life right now. Thank you, Natalie, for this beautiful reminder to savor and not to wish away the present. So good!

  2. As always, thank you for these gracious articles. After living abroad for three years I am about to return home to get back into American life. I look forward to it and am also terrified by it. Returning home always seems like such a failure to me, but I know it’s my own warped idea of success and failure. Thank you for this lovely reminder that I shouldn’t feel guilty or lazy coming back to my roots. 🙂 Your topics are always just what I need!

  3. I love that you address this specific season of life with an article. You demystify it with clear writing and beautiful words. I have trouble though with the insinuation that people are to be set adrift if they no longer add value to you (#3), as some of the greatest beauty and growth can be found in unselfish relationship.

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