How to Deal with Reverse Empty-Nester
Last summer was the last time I was without my dad for an extended period of time. Two months, to be exact. The longest I had ever been away from him. I was in New York, living my dream interning at Harper’s Bazaar magazine. But I hated not having my best friend.
For those of you who don’t know, my dad and I are close. In fact, closer than close. We do everything together. We work out together, we eat together, we write together, we watch TV together, we read the same books—sometimes I even wear his clothes. He’s more than my father, more than my best friend. He’s part of who I am.
This summer, we’re apart again. This time, he’s the one who’s gone. And this time, he isn’t coming back.
I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. To whine about how much I miss my dad? It’s true. I feel lost without him. But the point is, not all of us leave home first. Sometimes, by some freak occurrence, the parents (or other loved ones) actually leave before you do. Whether or not you’re close with them, it’s a shock to the system to be fresh out of college and completely alone. In this case, how do you deal?
Set Yourself Goals
For many of us, it’s difficult to self-start. College was exhausting enough and now you just want to relax. However, you can’t.
It’s important to find balance and not overwork yourself, but it’s also important to make sure you know what you’re doing. Your loved ones aren’t there to help guide you, and so you kind of have to figure it out yourself.
Try setting goals: for the day, for the week, for the month, for the next three months. Stick to them. It’ll give you a sense of being grounded.
Reach Out to Old Friends
It’s easy to take your family for granted when you see/talk to them every single day, but when you suddenly don’t have that anymore, it can feel very strange.
I recommend reaching out to old friends you haven’t been able to see because you were too busy with school and catching up. It feels good to see someone who has always been important to you.
If you already do this, maybe try a different style of workout. For example, swap cardio for a nice yoga session. You may be feeling anxiety/pressure for what’s next in your life, and without your loved ones there to give you peace of mind, it’s helpful to release that tension with a workout.
Set Aside Time for a Phone Call
Always make sure to keep in touch with your loved ones—they likely miss you as much as you miss them. It will feel good to unwind and talk about your day with people who have your best interest at heart.
Take A Bath
I’ve yet to try this, but I hear it’s super relaxing and so why not add it to the list? Besides, if you’ve already done everything else, you probably really smell by now anyway.
Or Maybe…You Don’t Give A Shit
Maybe your parents or other loved ones really suck and it’s like, good riddance. In that case, throw a damn party! You don’t need those assholes.