In honour of the most recent Father’s Day, I wanted to write about a very important conversation I had with my dad about what “home” means, and how to find it.
I called him mid-crisis last year when living in Aberdeen, Scotland. I couldn’t seem to center myself there, I didn’t feel like I was at home. Granted I was in uni and not really supposed to be settled into a home, since most new uni students still consider home to be where they grew up, but I haven’t really considered that to be home in several years. My idea of how I should be feeling “at home” was based on my assumption that something was missing from that experience. I wasn’t as happy as I could have been. I felt at home and happy when I was living in Ecuador and Madagascar for only a few months, and I could not figure out what might have changed.
Life in Aberdeen was not making me happy, not in the way I wanted. Perhaps I was looking for something irrational, too idealistic, but I was getting more and more drained as the months passed. Even now when I go back something changes and my energy disappears quicker than it usually does. Don’t get me wrong, I love all my friends and I don’t regret choosing to live there, I just didn’t feel like I had found my home.
All this is what I told my dad. I thought he would be upset or offended that I didn’t feel at home under my parents’ roof. I was expecting him to tell me I was crazy or that I should give it more time and try to establish my life more. He didn’t. He told me that sometimes it takes a long time to find what home means to you, to figure out what things make you feel safe and happy. He said that home might not be a house, a city, or a country, but that it might also be a person, or a job, or a family. He said it could be none of those things at all, that there is an instinct we have in us that makes us feel welcome, safe, and happy, and this is what tells you that you are home. Maybe that changes over time, perhaps you feel at home in your new apartment or city, but in a few months time you will feel at home when a certain someone is around, or when you finally get a career in which you thrive.
This unspecific answer actually made me feel so much better. Whatever it may be, home is not something simple and steadfast, it is something different for everyone, and one single place might not be home. You are home when you feel happy and secure, and whether it’s because of a place, a house, a person, or a job, you will find home. It may take a long time, and it may be somewhere temporary, but if you feel like something is missing, trust that feeling. Maybe you don’t need to search for a home right now, maybe you should just search for somewhere you feel happy, no matter the cause.