Leaving Family and Friends Behind, Overcoming Guilt

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Leaving behind my family and friends.  Letting go of the guilt that I would be abandoning them was the hardest thing I had to do.  Some of my friends couldn’t understand how I could just leave everything, including our friendship and all the good times we shared together for an adventure.  They tried persuading me that I could follow my passion and do all my writing without going away.  I was constantly being asked, how bad could things be? What if it doesn’t work out? They reassured me that I would have all their support if I stayed.

At first, I actually had second thoughts.  I was blessed to have friends who cared about me with my best interest at heart.  How could I leave them behind, go to another country where I did not know anyone?

I gathered my thoughts and approached the situation from a different perspective.  People who would never imagine themselves leaving to a foreign country, could not understand my decision.  Their reaction was completely normal, a reflection of their fear of letting go and not one that was personal to me.  This would just be another challenge I would have to overcome.

The most difficult challenge was letting go of my family.  I have been a big part of my nieces’ and nephews’ lives.  They expressed how much they would miss not having me around for all the birthdays, holidays and listening to their stories.  Hearing this send the worst stabbing pain in my heart I have ever known.  I wanted to watch them grow and guide them through all their experiences.

I was holding on to past memories of my family and friends. Leaving did not mean the end of my relationship with them. It would mean the beginning of a new life.  The best gift I could give to them was leaving.  I would be setting an example, be a mentor in following their dreams.  They would learn through all my experiences, be inspired to face challenges.

Being able to leave my family and friends would only make me stronger, staying and holding on to them would reinforce not to pursue all you can be.  In becoming stronger, I would offer them a lot more than I could ever imagine.

I am sure most of you have travelled by plane. Have you noticed that when the emergency guidelines are given, we are asked to first place the oxygen mask on ourselves and then to any children or people who need help?  Makes perfect sense! How can you take care of others if you do not take care of yourself first? It is important to make time for ourselves, it will enrich us. We will become a better person towards those we love and care about.

I was not abandoning my family and friends, they will always be a part of me.  I will get to share a whole new me with them.  That was so exciting. Years from now, I want to be someone who taught them lessons through the knowledge I will gain on this journey.  The thought that one day they would look at me and see someone with a build up of regrets and bitterness was scary. Especially from my nieces and nephews, they will grow up, have a life of their own.  They will face many hurdles along the way.  I will set an example for them to believe in themselves, all the falls and mistakes are just part of  learning.  We should never be afraid to continuously want to learn, it means we accept that there is so much we don’t know. We will leave our own personal trail, instead of always taking the same road for fear of getting lost.  Others will want to follow our trail, to eventually be able to leave a trail of their own.

By explaining that my decision had nothing to do with getting away from them, and being opened about everything I was in search of, they were now excited for me and encouraged me. I reassured them that I would come back to visit. Our time together would be special, we would share our experiences and learn from each other. They  saw it as an opportunity to visit me on their next vacation. If everyone actually follows through, I will have quite a few visitors.

It is now five days since I arrived in Buenos Aires.  I have made two new friends from the same building of my apartment.  It was easy, one speaks french and the other speaks english… My plan is to increase my network with new friends.  I have to learn the language first. I have signed up for courses starting next week, it will be interesting!

Have you ever put off doing something you really wanted to do because you felt guilty over how your family and friends would react?  What would happen if you did it? Wouldn’t your family and friends want you to be happy? I would love to hear more about this from you, I still think about my family and friends.  Leave your thoughts in the comment box.

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This entry was posted in Cleansing Your Beliefs, Power to Let Go and tagged , , , , , .

28 Responses to Leaving Family and Friends Behind, Overcoming Guilt

  1. Kimberly says:

    Hi Antonia,

    Your story is one that I needed to read for the past few months. I’m extremely devoted to my family here in NC and I’ve never been apart from them for very long. In my family I find my strength and my peace, and the thought of leaving them has been one of the scariest moments of my life. I have an opportunity to finish my degree and “making something of myself” in Austin, TX and I’ve had many sleepless nights over the thought of making my family sad that I am leaving. I’ve given up opportunities like this before, and I’ve already regretted doing so, and always wondered “what if I had the courage then? What would I have been today?” I’m the oldest child in the family, me being 27 and the youngest 10. I want more than anything to be a role model for the younger siblings. I’ve struggled with confusing emotions – am I too scared? Am I scared because I know somewhere that I will fail? Or am I scared of succeeding? What if something happens to the family while I am gone? What memories will I miss?

    — But what if I don’t go? What happiness am I missing out on? What adventures am I missing? What inspiration am I going to lack providing to those needing strength to follow their own dreams?

    I know my purpose in life is my family, and by me leaving I would be inspiring them that you can achieve what you want to achieve. It will be scary, absolutely. But necessary? Even more so.

    Thank you for your story.

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Kimberly,

      Yes!!! It is scary! That’s exactly how I felt for many years before I took my decision. All those ‘what ifs’, all those excuses, is the reason why it took me so long.

      I am of Italian background, very big on family values:) Having taken my decision has been the best thing and the best example for my siblings.

      It will be scary Kimberly, if it’s something you really want, your family will only want the best for you!

  2. Nathalie says:

    Your story is very inspiring. Brought emotional tears. I am facing a situation where I have an opportunity to start a new exciting life. It would mean however, leaving behind not only a 20 year job but also aging parents and 20 year old son who lives with me. The guilt is overwhelming but excitement of a new beginning is inspiring. Please send comments.

  3. Misty says:

    Your stories inspire me!!! Im a single women with a grown daughter…i have been driving a dump truck for over 10 yrs…i just recently broke my ankle & now have a plate & screws to hold it together, driving my work truck now is very painful so my company offered me a job running a rock quarry…my BIG dilemma is…….its two & a half hours away from my daughter!!!! The job seems amazing and I know I could learn to love living in the country ( I have always lived in the city )….and thoughts would be great

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Misty,

      Thanks for sharing your story. Sometimes life hands us situations where we are faced with making decisions without knowing the outcome. Sounds like you’re excited about the change, both the job and location. If you were to remove all the ‘what ifs’, how exciting does making the change feel deep inside? That’s your answer:)

  4. diana says:

    it is really an Earth shuttering thing to leave all your family behind and it feels as if a part of you has been ripped off and can never be replaced

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Diana,

      Yes, it was not easy. Having their support and encouragement helped. Coming back to visit made us closer. It’s funny how being apart for a certain period, can really make a relationship grow stronger sometimes:)

  5. Mel says:

    This is so utterly inspiring!
    Thank you for helping me make my decision.
    I wonder how you are now..

  6. Pingback: You Are Not Too Small to Make a Difference

  7. Joe says:

    Hi Antonia,

    I pray that God watches over you as you embark on this new adventure and blesses you with an open heart and an open mind. I hope this journey enriches you with a clearer understanding of yourself and your purpose in life. I guess sometimes in life we need to challenge ourselves and face our fears in order to experience life at a higher level.

    Don’t forget that no matter how far you are from home, you are never alone.

    Most of all have fun!!!

  8. Nancy says:

    Hi Antonia!

    Here I am, as promised. I loved what you wrote and I wish you great success in your new adventure…good times to encourage you to keep going and bad times to learn and appreciate the great ones even more.

    As many have mentioned, you ARE an inspiration – it takes courage to leave all you know and love to start over, no matter how you look at it. And I can assure you, you’ve already left your trail through the guidance and support you have provided to many – following you now; maybe someone will say if she did it, so can I! That’s pretty amazing and powerful! I can’t wait to follow you through your journey (even if it’s from a distance 🙂 ) because I know that it will be beneficial..not just to me but to everyone.

    Take care of yourself, have fun learning spanish and can’t wait to hear from you! xxx

  9. Nathaniel Flint says:

    I think I can relate to what you’re saying.

    We might have only one life to live and since we don’t really have a clear, firm confirmation as to why we’re here (at least there’s a lot of opinions out there about the who, what, when, where) why not set fulfillment as one’s goal, among others?

    Following our hunch for something that we perceive as having better chances of fulfilling the emptiness in our heart might be the quintessential thing to do and there’s a zillion ways for anybody to do that if for any reason they can’t afford to travel. Grab a book, follow courses, make new friends, paint, dance, play, expand your mind.

    Go ahead, just do it! (maybe you should get Nike as a sponsor).




    • antonia says:

      I love your comment!! Thank you for sharing! Any change we engage it, whether it is pursuing your passion in an activity or hobby, will enrich us!

      • Nathaniel Flint says:

        And what fuels the need to enlarge your horizon is always curiosity. There is so much to do, so much to see in the world, you just cannot be bored; sometimes all you really need is a little push in the back, that’s all.

        Use the force, force yourself!



  10. valerie says:

    I am tagging along my friend, keep your posts coming !! Hugs and kisses

  11. Ronald Longfosse says:

    Hi Antonia,
    i know it takes a lot of courage to do what u did..i know it cuz i’ve always want to go to Australia and leave eveything behind but never foud what it takes to do it… now it’s too late because i have a family with young kids(41/2 and 2).
    reading your story made me pose for a second and wishing somehow i’d done what u did..neways very refreshing and inspiring..wow…

    • antonia says:

      Hi Ronald, thanks for sharing your story. Hope that you will follow your dream, things usually seem a lot more complex that they are, sometimes we discover new passions along the way:) Kids have a way of making us see things we have come to take for granted….

  12. Nikki says:

    Coming from a family of conformist I have definitely struggled with this many times. We are raised to believe that the most important things are to get a good education, find a good job and keep it for a long time, get married, have children, etc… when we do not fit this mould that is ingrained since birth (LOL) we automatically feel guilty. That is why most of us following you on your journey see you as an inspiration… because you had the guts to get over the guilt and do it.
    Watching you pursue your dreams, makes me take a deep look at myself and ask myself, what do I want to do with the rest of my life, what example do I want to be to my daughter, my nephews, my family. Would I be able to overcome the guilt, would I have the courage to sell it all and let it all go to pursue my dreams? I am not sure yet, but you have definitely got me thinking, and that’s the 1st step .
    On a funny note, I did a test with my family this weekend. While we were having dinner Saturday night I told them about possible cuts coming where I work and that I was exploring the option of leaving… well the look on every ones face was priceless (except my sister in law, God love her!)!!! Wish you were there to see it… My brother was like you are crazy, you are going to give up a good job, good salary and good benefits to do what… so I said what about happiness, pursuing your dreams… his answer was what about paying the bills! I suppose everyones knee jerk reaction is the same, and this is how we get stuck in life.
    So as I follow you on your journey the bumpy road to my mine begins! Miss ya!

  13. Sylvain says:

    Hi Antonia!

    Yes, I can understand that guilt feeling you describe. If I had to do a similar move (leaving the country), the situation would be a bit different but I do fully understand your dilemma… and your approach.

    I would also add that living such different experiences as your friends will help you connect more with them… as you’ll be able to share about things that are normally part of our daily routines… but from a whole different angle. Nothing seems ordinary or common when you view it from a whole new perspective. If I base myself to my recent experience in Germany… I’m sure your first visit to the grocery or the market was something very special and you probably felt quite silly when you had no clue how to do some things or understood what was expected of you.

    Good luck in your new journey and keep us informed of your plans and progress.

    P.S.: it’s true my picture fits perfectly in there 🙂

    • antonia says:

      Hi Sylvain, thanks for input on being even more connected with friends! You are so right, it has already happened! I relate to your experience, I will share one of mine in an upcoming post:)

  14. Elke says:

    Antonia, you should be so proud of yourself, it’s a big step to take on in your life and I myself am envious. Im sure you had your struggles in making that decision. You have taken your dreams and ran with them. As you said fear is usually what keeps us from moving forward.
    You go girl, enjoy every moment. Live, Love, Learn


    • antonia says:

      Hi Elke, Thank you so much for the encouragement! Yes, I had many struggles in making this decision. The biggest one was getting the courage to let go of everything….The best thing I did was stop dwelling on all the bad things that would happen without them. Once I focused on all that I would gain, wow, I can’t explain the excitement!! Like anything, it was baby steps…lol

      Hope to hear from you again

  15. Lyse Deschamps says:

    Antonia!! So good to hear from you, I always look forward to it. Without a doubt in my mind you did the right thing. Yes, most of us insecure, habbit trained, change fearing, compliant, routine addicted humans simply don’t have the confidence to do what you are doing. Fear of the unknown… I admire you and am so happy for you! For years I have been walking from my car to the building, looking at others doing the same and thinking we all look like Zombies lol. You are now a Butterfly. You did the right thing for sure! xox

    • antonia says:

      Hi Lyse, I know what you mean! I was there! All changes, no matter how big or small will make a difference. Even in a routine addiction ( I like the way you put it…lol). I know someone that was afraid of having free time…her unknown was “what do I do if I have free time…” She made herself busy, she always had something to do, just to avoid having to face alone time with herself. She was stressing herself out, her kids were afraid to tell her anything because she would snap and yell at them! Until she took a step back, set her priorities and starting enjoying hobbies! She gained more confidence and her kids love being around her now…they do fun stuff together!
      I found her to amazing in being able to make that change, let me tell you, everyone around her as well!!!

  16. Pascale says:

    Hi Antonia, I’m so happy for you and I find you very inspiring! J’avais hâte de te lire cette semaine après avoir lu ton premier message… On ne s’est pas vu souvent mais quand je te lis je comprend pourquoi ça avait cliqué tout de suite avec toi! Je te souhaite une merveilleuse aventure! Can’t wait to read more about it…

    • antonia says:

      Hi Pascale, You are a very inspiring person! You have great leadership…you do not manage, you lead your employees! You work with their strengths and encourage them to grow, you do not evaluate their mistakes. I admire that about you, I believe that mistakes are important, they are all part of a growing experience. If you punish a mistake, no one will ever want to try new things or take risks. That’s too bad, we miss out on what employees have to offer!

      I know you faced a big challenge recently, would love to hear about it. What would you say you gained from those 2 months?

  17. Theresa says:

    Antonia, I admire your courage and you are an inspiration to your neices and nephews. I experienced the same guilt when I packed up and left to go live out West in the mountains. Leaving family and friends behind was really hard. Hind sight is 20-20 vision and when I reflect on that period of my life, I clearly saw that I made the right decision and was one of the best decisions of my life. I cannot wait to hear more about your journey and share in our growth together.
    Take care.

    • antonia says:

      Hi Theresa, How did you get past the guilt? It is great to hear that you saw that period of your life as having made the best decision. How did grow from it?