Living far from family – 9 things that helped me

“I could never do what you’re doing, because I love my family” a girl my age once said to me about 3 years ago, when I told her that I moved to LA from Denmark to pursue dance.

At the time, I had a side hustle as a professional overthinker, so her comment stuck with me for way longer than it should have:

“Do people think I can live away from my family because I don’t love them?

I’ve actually found the opposite to be true

It might be controversial, but in my opinion, the more love there is in a relationship between you and a family member the easier it is to be away from them. It might sounds backwards to some, but despite the pain from missing them every day, you still feel as safe, secure and supported within the relationship – even 9000 kilometers away.

Yes, kilometers. I’m European. I don’t do miles.

If you’re unsure about someone – if there’s a lot of conflict and tension, it’s harder to be where your little feet are, because you’ll find yourself in a constant state of worry.

9 things that made it easier to live away from my family

1. Technology & Family Groups

I’m so glad that the postcard era is done. Take advantage of all the tech tools you got to constantly stay a little bit involved in each others everyday lives on-the-go, and combine that with a few longer catch-up sessions with no interruptions.

SnapChat Sibling Group: My 3 siblings and I have a little SnapChat group, where we share random experiences every day, from people screaming on the metro, to work, to inside jokes or “look, I spilled wine all over my bed” etc.

Messenger Family Group: Same purpose as SnapChat, just with parents. Wooh. Again, a great way to share the little things, random articles, inside jokes and photos. If you have a bigger family like I do, it’s also a VERY convienient way to not tell the same story 98 times. #WorkSmarterNotHarder they said.

Iphone games: I’ve found this one very helpful if a family member isn’t the most chatty person on this planet. Go to AppStore and find a random Scrabble app, Trivia game and start it with that family member.

Obviously pick one of those where you don’t have to sit and play in real time, so a time difference or opposite schedules won’t affect it. I’ve definitely played a lot of Scrabble against my younger brother. I’ll get a message at 3AM: “YOU SUCK” – and that is an entire love language in itself.

FaceTime over calls: Duh. My point here is that seeing someone’s face is non-negotial at this point.

Personally, I don’t love the group-calls because it’s confusing as hell to me and it takes way more planning, but to each her own. Maybe it’s something for you!

2. Involve them in random things that don’t really matter (because they do matter)

Instead of telling them about your life, ask for opinions and advice on things before or as they’re happening. Include them in the decision process.

Instead of being an audience to each others lives, you’re inviting them to be a part of it and vice versa.

3. Voice messages

With a 9 hour time difference it’s not always easy to jump on a call. But instead of texting, a voice message is way more personal and can make you feel much closer to the person.

4. Traveling and planning

Planning when you’ll seeing them next makes everyone look forward to something. Right now it’s August and I know I’ll see my family at my sister’s wedding in November which makes my heart more at ease.

Visit each other: It has been insanely important to me to have my family see my apartment, that my dad came and watched a dance class here in LA, and that my siblings came and stayed with me. It was important to me to see their new apartments in Denmark as well and see the offices they work in.

Meet in the middle: I’ve also met my family in Miami for instance – kinda half way between Denmark and Los Angeles. Meeting in a different country or in a different city so everyone is taken out of their day-to-day life can be really beneficial too, and making those memories together will only bring you closer.

5. Do your very best to be honest

I get it – you don’t want your parents to worry. Me neither. But telling them that you’re okay when your not, will only make you feel even more disconnected and lonely.

I’ve been there. Oh trust me, I’ve been there. You didn’t get the job, but as your eyes are tearing up and your throat tightens, you decide to tell them in a high-pitched voice on the phone: “It’s fine! I’m fine!!! It’s all good, yeah, no worries!”, just to hang up and bawl your eyes out. It can be immensely difficult to be vulnerable and allow people to love you, especially when they live far and don’t “get” your new life, but talking to people who have known you your whole life can be the key to keep going for a little fragile heart abroad.

Sure, they don’t understand the difference between a class video and a music video, but all of that doesn’t matter. What matters is that they understand who you are at your core. If you let them, they will tell you how much they love you – not because of your resumé but because of who you are – and they will remind you that your existence is incredibly valuable to this Planet when the industry makes you feel small and invisible.

Being vulnerable and sharing the good AND the bad, only makes us closer to the people we love. And believe it or not – you’ll feel so much better when you’re being your most authentic self on- and off the phone.

6. Be where your feet are

This one is really important when living away from your family. You need to find chosen family or at least just friends that make you feel safe, calm and understood. Even just ONE person is enough.

Don’t be the girl who’s constantly on her phone talking to people on the other side of the planet, while neglecting the relationships in the new place.

You need to commit to where you are, which means being present, finding new people to be around, finding a new gym, new activities, new routines, new places to eat.. you’re building a new life here!

Don’t worry if you don’t find people who feels like home right away – you can’t force it. You just spent the first X amount of years on building a life and now you’re starting all over. It’s not supposed to be easy. But if the only people you’re opening up to are living on another continent, you will never feel understood or at home where you are.

7. Remember: Being sad is normal

If you just moved, you especially need to remember this one. The body doesn’t recognize the difference between positive change and negative change – all it sees is uncertainty and DANGER – so even when something exciting is about to happen, like moving to your DREAM CITY for a DREAM JOB, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, sad, lonely, anxious and even a f*ckton of regret when the moving date is creeping in on you.

Even after you unpack and buy an adapter because they have weird outlets here – it’s still normal to feel sad. Even after you buy those overpriced candles from Target because #SelfCare – it’s still normal to feel sad. I still to this day after living abroad for about 7 years have moments where I get really sad. It’s normal.

But don’t let the chemicals in the brain scare you, alright? Especially not in the beginning. You need to give it a chance and trust that the idea and dream was planted in your heart for a reason. You owe yourself to toughen up a little, wipe your tears and give it your all.

In a “Hakuna-Matata-Carpe-Diem-Yolo” way.

Not in an “aggressive-motivational-speaker-who’s-screaming-at-you” –way.

You got this.

Which leads me to my last point:

8. Nothing is forever

I keep saying to people, that the most comforting thing about living abroad is that it can end ANY second I want it to. I’m choosing to live here. If I wake up tomorrow and absolutely hate it, I’m gonna light a match, burn the apartment down to the ground, go to LAX, fly to Denmark or Morocco or Disneyworld in Orlando and eat Candyfloss for the rest of my life.

Maybe that’s not exactly what’s gonna happen, but you get the point.

If you’re thinking: “Ok well, but it’s not that easy…”

You’re right. It’s not easy. But it’s simple. Very simple. You always have a choice to move back to your family.

9. Lastly – tell them you love them

Often. And loud. Over and over and over again.


IG: here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *