The Worst Thing About Remote Year

I wrote a post yesterday and mentioned my grandma getting sicker by the day. That’s all I said. What didn’t I share? The incredible guilt that I’ve had while not seeing my family the whole time I’ve been abroad. The lack of communication I’ve had with my family because I’ve been so engrossed in the Remote Year world. The feelings of disconnectedness with the people who were once my go-tos. My rocks. My world.

Those rocks and my world have changed. And it’s the hardest thing to think about. Back home, normal days (or what’s normal for other people, I suppose) are happening. My parents wake up. My mom walks 5 miles. Sometimes she’ll call or text me during it. My brother is in summer school. My other brother is at our parent’s house for the summer. I’ll get a Facebook comment from someone who saw my mom at HEB. My friend will send me a snapchat of her brunch work shift. All of this is “normal”. And my reality, as insane as it is, is also very normal – to me, at least.

What have I learned while on Remote Year? We can’t escape reality. Or what we thought we were running away from. Or what we thought we should ignore. Or what we thought we could just come back to; you can’t come back to things that aren’t there anymore.

During our farewell dinner for our Remote Year group, I was present. We had a very sentimental, candlelit moment where we shared a lot of feelings. I wasn’t on my phone, wasn’t checking messages, wasn’t paying attention to anything other than the people surrounding me, who I knew wouldn’t be there come next week.

But reality gave me a swift kick in the face.

I opened my phone to call an Uber, saw a Facebook notification, opened Facebook, and the first thing that I saw was my uncle’s post, saying that my grandma passed away.

I’ve never hated social media so much.

I was in the middle of trying to get through emotions that were already so draining, and then this hit me. And then I remembered; an hour before I left, my mom had let me know that she needed to talk.

“Sorry, I’m rushing out to our farewell. Is it urgent?”

I said.

“No big. Go have fun and call me later!”

My gut said something was up.

I think the worst part about it is knowing that I’m coming home in a week. I will be home in four days. I haven’t seen my grandma in a year. I am so heartbroken that I wasn’t there to sing her a Selena song, to hug her for an entire minute, or to share a rum and coke with her at the Christmas party, or any party, because she was always up for anything.

Remote Year is amazing. But you will miss out on moments that you can’t get back.

While living this life, I’ve been given the opportunity to travel all over the world, meet the most amazing people, and learn a lot about myself.

However, I will never get back the moments that I missed out on with the people that I love.

It’s a risk I took, and a risk that many others take.

I can’t help but feel guilty. I feel like shit. I feel like I should have been there and I could have been there and I would have been there if only I wasn’t following my own selfish dreams.

These are the things we deal with. Though the traveling lifestyle is something that many people desire and are apparently jealous of, there’s nothing like the people that you’ve known before; the family that raised you; the emotions that you knew before leaving it all.

And while I’m incredibly sad and in the process of grieving and have told no one in my Remote Year family about this (until now), I know that I’ll get through it. It’ll be hard. It will suck. Like, horribly, suck. Especially because I know that this is our last week. This is the last time I'll have these people to lean on, in person.

This is my new family, who I know is here for me through anything, and they'll be gone in two days.

This was my last living grandparent. This was a member of my family that has been there from the beginning. She watched me sing Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer when I was four years old, as my dad recorded it in her living room. She made me atole (similar to oatmeal but SO MUCH BETTER) every time I came over, even when it wasn’t breakfast time. She reminisced with me about how great my mom was every time we started talking about the past. She always had a place for me to stay, “just in case” I needed one whenever I visited home. She was one of the most loving and kind humans I’ve ever known.

So, my post was a bit hijacked by this incredibly sad family emergency. But it actually was very relevant to what I was going to write.

And I'm sorry to the folks in my RY family - I've been holding back tears every time I talk to every single one of you. I've probably been super weird when we've hung out one on one. I've probably shared too many feelings and been the cliche "life is short" person the last 48 hours. I'm dealing with all of this while trying to process the end of a very big year of my life; i.e. I'm a wreck. But, if you didn't know it, it's true:

life is short. 

I don't regret telling you guys that I love you or like you or want nothing but the best for you. I don't regret you seeing me at my absolute worst. I don't regret a thing I've done this year. But...

I guess I’d like for people to know that this stuff happens. If you choose to do Remote Year or travel the world for a living or even for fun – know the things that you’re leaving behind. Know that you can’t “escape” reality. Know that you can’t run from the things that you’re so desperately trying to beat. Because in the end, it will come back. It will hit you like a pile of bricks. And as terrible as it sounds, you will have to make the best of it.

I’m walking away from this post 49 minutes in. It’s the only one I haven’t almost gone over on. But I don’t think I can write anymore right now.

A quote, as usual, to end this one:

Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. 

-Wayne Dyer


Professional writer, designer, and do-it-aller. Remote Year citizen/alum. Currently living in San Francisco and probably trying to avoid the terrifying amounts of pigeons.