Whether you have a hard time saying them or not, when you’re the person on the receiving end of this heartfelt expression it feels kind of good to hear those three words: I miss you. When I went to college, had friends move away or even long-distance friendships, hearing those three words felt like an empty promise. I never wanted to believe that someone missed me, or that I was someone to be missed. Until I realized what it was like to miss someone and feel the need to tell them.

For instance, when my parents moved me into college freshmen year, I called my mom that very night and told her I missed her. Even now, a rising junior in college, I still make a point to call my family and tell them that I miss them. Moreover, when I’m home during summer break and away from friends I make a point to tell them when I miss them. These three words show that you care about that person being in your life. There’s a great quote I found that states: “Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, make your absence felt.” The negative nelly could say this quote means that you didn’t appreciate someone being in your life until they were gone, but I think it just means that you couldn’t imagine someone not in your life until the day they weren’t there.

When I’m not with my family or don’t see them for weeks, or months even, I miss them like crazy. Maybe I don’t tell them enough so I’m going to make that promise to myself publicly that when I miss a person I will tell them. I hope you can do the same for yourself.

In less than three weeks I will be in Spain for four months studying abroad and am plagued with the fear that I won’t be missed. That the campus I live on will continue to prosper and thrive without me, that my professors won’t notice me not sitting in the front row of their classroom, my jobs will “manage” without me, or that my friend group will fill in the circle while I’m gone without pause; and then, when I get back, no one will notice. That’s a little dramatic, but it captures the idea.

Hearing those three words can be really odd at first, but then comforting. Someone longs for your presence in their life and you should make a point to be a part of theirs. This can even apply to old friends from high school; if you miss them, tell them. Sometimes, though, there is a dichotomy when it comes to missing someone; maybe it’s not that you miss that person but who you used to be with them. There is so much to learn from when we feel a void in ourselves that only a person can fill. It’s actually quite beautiful.