I've travelled a lot. Every year I pack my bags, say my goodbyes and board a plane to some far off destination for an extended period of time. I tell myself over and over again that it's just as hard for me to say goodbye to my loved ones as it is for them to say goodbye to me and I squash down the little voice inside that tells me it is much harder for those left behind because they don't have the exciting prospects ahead of them that I have.
I have always been a person who strives to please people and for a lot of my life, I have sacrificed what makes me happy for the happiness of others. Travel is the first thing I have really done for me and in order to ensure that I keep doing it, I admittedly don't spend a lot of time thinking about how it feels to be left behind.
And then last week, something strange happened to me. I have always been the traveller in the family, but on Wednesday, my little sister flew the nest to travel Asia for 6 months. I was left behind.
Saying goodbye to her a few days before she left I was filled with all kinds of feelings I didn't expect. I was excited for her - having travelled longterm myself, I knew what amazing things were ahead of her and how it would change her and help her grow as a person. I felt pride - I am so proud of my baby sister for taking this step, doing something for herself and following her dreams. I was telling anyone who would listen about the amazing trip she had planned. I felt jealousy - I wish more than anything that I could be doing the trip she's doing, experiencing the things she experiencing and seeing parts of the world I'm yet to explore. I also felt sad. My sister and I have grown closer over the last few years and although we don't talk that often, the idea of her not being there for so long gets me all emotional. The fact that she won't be back before I leave on my own adventures in May feels like forever and knowing she won't be around at Christmas, which has always been a family affair, breaks my heart a little. I feel a little lost without her and I don't know what to do with myself! I'm almost dreading Christmas Day and plan to drown my sorrows in turkey, chocolate and alcohol.
The day she left brought with it several more feelings. At the forefront was guilt. I couldn't get the day off work to wave her off at the airport with the rest of my family. That tore me up. I was glued to my phone sending good luck messages and tracking her flight departure. The pride came back too, stronger than before, so did the jealousy.
In the days that have followed, life is relatively normal. I don't live at home with my parents so her absence isn't that noticeable. Often though I get little reminders that she isn't there because she is off doing amazing things. I find myself checking my Whatsapp in case she has sent us a message, her instagram in case she has uploaded a picture, her snapchat in case she has updated her story and her Journi account so I can pretend I'm there with her. I love hearing from her and I wish we could talk more. I'm already eagerly awaiting the Facetime she has promised me.
Suddenly, I am very aware of how my loved ones must feel when I'm away. Usually I'm having far too much fun to send a text or an email to check in with them but now I know that taking those few moments to communicate could make their day. I know first hand all the emotions experienced by those left behind and will make a conscious effort to be more aware of them in the future. I know that while 3 months may go by in the blink of an eye for me, the days can drag on forever for them.
Mostly though, I know it won't last forever and I will see her soon to swap stories of all the things we have seen. I can't wait! Until then, have the best time sis, I'm so proud of you! See you in September xoxo