I try to have daily calls with my mom for the last 6 years I’ve been away from home. I just got off the phone with her and we teared up a bit in the end. I’m in San Francisco and she’s back home in Canada. We often forget that when we choose to migrate to different parts of the world for better opportunities, we also sacrifice the time we get to spend with our loved ones. It seems like that’s just a part of the deal — but it’s a deal that we sign and our loved ones just have to go along with.
And I don’t think this situation is just relevant to people in Silicon Valley but it’s something that everyday people like the chef in the back of your local restaurant cooking your food to your Uber driver faces every day. They chose to move away from their family in hopes of a better future…for their family.
These past few years, I can count the number of days I’ve been home on one hand [exaggerating]. While it’s an incredibly rewarding working in what many can call the “hub of innovation”, many of us leave behind our families who championed us to get here in the first place — and that sucks.
It has always been a dream to work and learn amongst the best and brightest but we often forget about the “cost”. It is the “cost” that both drives me to make the most out of my life and it is also the same thing that causes me to question if this is all worth it.
I lost my dad before I turned 18. I reason that that’s the cause of why I am so sensitive to this situation. Maybe if my dad was still alive, I’ll feel less inclined to think about home. Maybe if my dad was still alive, I wouldn’t worry about the “cost” too much. Maybe if my dad was still alive, things would be different. But the reality is that he is gone and home is just my mom, my sister and me.
Similar to the Gold Rush in the 1800s, in tech, we tend to justify being away from home by sending money back. We’ll buy our family expensive things to show that we’re well-off and that we care. For me, I decided to buy them a new home in our hometown — not in San Francisco. God knows that I can’t afford one in the Bay Area anytime soon lol. I think we do these gestures not purely out of the goodness of our hearts but as a justification for ourselves that we refer to when our family tells us to move back home. And nothing’s wrong with that. That’s just how it is.
I’m not sure what I want you to get out of this — or if there’s even a lesson I’m trying to drive this piece towards but if there is, it’ll be to call home regularly and tell them how much you miss them.
This world is a busy place and it is easy to be caught up in chasing down your dreams. It is important to not forget the people who helped us get to where we are today. For me, that is my family. For you, it might be someone else. Keep them close and let them know you’re thinking about them.
And finally, it is important to achieve your dreams — but don’t neglect your supporters while you’re at it. A quick call home is insignificant when you think about how much of a nightmare it probably was to raise you. Let that be an actionable item.