Staying away from family to realise the importance of family
My journey on understanding the importance of family over everything else and why I hope everyone does as well.
I have always been the kind of person who has wanted to break free of any restrictions imposed onto me. As a child, our parents try to protect us in every way possible based on their life experiences. While their intentions are incredibly pure, some of us (I think most) don’t prefer having told what to do and instead feel the urge to explore life in the way we want. We might end up doing what our parents were telling us to do in the first place. Still, there is one significant difference: having gained the experiential knowledge of making mistakes on our own and learning WHY we should do something instead of just knowing WHAT the right thing to do is.
Back in 2014, having stayed in Kolkata for 18 years, I knew I needed a change. And for some weird reason, the only pathway to change I could see was to go somewhere far from home, somewhere I could do things that I want to do without any moderation and try out everything that life has to offer, to the extent of my need for exploration. And so I did, by studying in Guwahati for the next 4 years. Even during the summer and winter breaks, I used to travel to other cities for internships and ended up staying at home for only about 20 days in a year during that time.
As the years went by, I started understanding the importance of having an anchor, a support system that would always be there by your side, no matter how poorly you perform, or how badly you behave, or how unsuccessful you are — family. Family never decides to love you based on whether you have a certain GPA or whether you got a fancy job. Yes, they may have expectations, sometimes, unreasonable. That is partly because of the lack of information that they have and slightly because they see other people doing certain things and assume that you want to do the same. It is up to us to correct their bias, make them understand that all of us have our timelines and the fact that comparing us with someone else will only do one thing — distant us from them. At least that is what I did, and my life has become so much better since then. I have never been compared to anyone else and all that, just by communicating with my family how comparing me with other people can only worsen my relationship with them.
And then, I graduated in 2018 and have been living in Mumbai since then. This change was a different experience than living in a hostel, as now I had to take care of every small thing in my life — from getting groceries to planning what to eat, to doing household chores, etc. It made me realise the importance of everyday household work that our mothers do, which keeps our day-to-day life going. And how underappreciated they must feel every day with people at home taking their work for granted and assuming that they exist only to serve their needs.
Also, we tend to search for something close to a family every new place that we go to. We try to be well-mannered and talk respectfully with new people that we meet, people who we work with, random people we might encounter, that new person whom you can potentially date, etc. But at the same moment, if we receive a call from home, we might ignore it thinking that we can always call back later — there’s nothing urgent.
Why does something have to be urgent for us to talk to our family?
As much as I started realising the importance of family after staying away from home for years, I have still been taking them for granted for many years. To give a very recent example, I have come back home this time after 1 year, choosing to spend my holidays either working or with friends or just doing nothing. While I think all of the choices are still okay, but the main underlying point remains — I can always come back to my family, they are not going anywhere else. And then I come back home, noticing the white hair growing on my mother’s head, watching my grandfather struggling to walk and then, reality strikes me. That they are not here forever and I need to prioritise them NOW.
Ever since I realised this, I have always used one simple trick to stay mindful of their importance. This trick, although useful, can lead to a lot of self-trauma. The idea is to think — how would you feel if anything were to happen to them while you were asleep or busy being angry over one small mistake that they did? What if the heated conversation you had the other night is the last conversation you ever had with them? Would you want to live with that for the rest of your life?
In the end, we can explore the whole world if we want. But the only set of people who will truly love us, for who we are, or who we become, or how much we make, or what we do, is going to be our family. And those of us, who can realise this, without having to go through the trauma of a personal loss, are truly lucky. For we still have time to repent, time to correct our mistakes.
We can still make it right.