Dear Dr. Archer,
I'm looking for some psychological advice for my 24 year old daughter. Seven months ago she moved four and a half hours away for her first real job. She loves her job, but she moved away from her childhood home and everyone she knows. She's shy and I believe she's homesick.
I want to be able to share with her some tools she can use to help her create a community of friends and support. She's on the verge of leaving a job she loves just to come home, even if it means finding a job she hates. Thank you for your help.
It is normal for young and old alike to be wary of change. Your daughter is feeling what comes naturally when someone leaves a childhood home, friends, family and all she knows, only to find herself in strange surroundings.
Your daughter is embarking on a new chapter in her life, and we don't want her fear to prevent her from growing. The best news of all is that she loves her new job. Great! Now we need to build on that to help her feel that this move was the best thing she ever did, and that she has no regrets. Let's get started.
There are a few things your daughter can do -- and some things she shouldn't -- to make this transition easier and less painful. I list some things in How Do I Handle Homesickness? which you can read. I have expanded this with some additions below:
**Call home. That said, the calls should never be more than once a day, but preferably limited to two or three times a week. This can ease the heartache of missing friends and family.
In doing so, the calls should always, always, always be positive on your part -- no allowing her to wallow in self-pity. As she starts acclimating to her new surroundings, the calls will naturally become less.
**Change the way you think. Yes, it absolutely can be done, even when you're homesick. When she is thinking of home, great meals and visiting friends, she's naturally going to want to return so she can enjoy all of those things again.
She needs to shift her mindset, and think of her job, how much she enjoys it and how many opportunities are present. She needs to admit to herself what she'd be giving up in order to go home.
**Visit home, but not too often. Knowing you can go home and see your hometown, all the familiar surroundings, family and friends. Since she's four and a half hours away, I don't think you need to worry about that, just make sure it’s not too much.
**Go out with coworkers. We all like to meet new people, and I'm sure her co-workers would like to get to know the new girl. By going out, whether it's one-on-one, a group or the whole office, this would be a great way to become more social.
**Check the local newspaper and ask coworkers for civic activities outside the office. It's important that she finds things she loves and enjoys. Get out and have fun! The sooner she realizes that there's fun outside her hometown, the better.
**Forget the self-pity! This is a big one, but be sure to let her know that millions of people are making big changes in their lives each and every day, and most are feeling just like her -- and some even worse.
This is NOT the end of the world, and if she puts forth the effort, she can make new, meaningful relationships that she will cherish, much like her childhood friends.
**Treat yourself! Positive reinforcement can work on a 24 year old woman, too. Don't break the bank, of course, but if she, or you, can treat her to something that can help.
**Always remember priorities. Why did she make the move in the first place? Why did she leave her childhood town, family and friends -- there has to be a good reason, and she/you needs to remind herself of those reasons.
As long as your daughter nurses and entertains these feelings of homesickness, she will continue to remain homesick. She would do well to live by the words of Mother Theresa when she said "Life is a promise; fulfill it."
If your daughter can change her attitude, give herself time to grow and enjoying this new time in her life, she will settle into her new environment. I wish her much success in her new endeavor. All the best,