Thursday, November 24, 2016

College Journey: Returning Home

For me Winter Break is a month and a half long experience. I know most people don't have that, but it isn't uncommon to have both a Thanksgiving break and a Christmas/Winter break, so most people do get the chance to spend several weeks with their family. Last year taught me that these aren't always ideal times for me. There are a lot of things about being at home that cause me to spiral down and over the summer it was truly bad. Winter break is shorter and to prepare I looked into things to do that might help. I have a feeling being back is similar to post-culture shock, the feelings of reversal back into a world you feel you may have grown out of. I hope these things I've found can help you adjust healthily back into life at home.

Don't give up your independence. It's great to be surrounded by my mom and dad who will gladly do my laundry, take me to the store, buy me food, or see a movie with me. At school I'm used to doing many of these things myself or with friends, who I would consider more equals than my parents (who, and this is a weird way to put it, are superior). I grew up under my parents and while I like spending time with them I don't want to get choked out of a lot of the independence and agency I worked for. So I'm doing my own laundry, taking care of at least half of my own meals (it would be rude to eat away from them all the time but if I'm coming home from work and tired I might get my own food), and going shopping when I feel like it for what I need. I don't want to depend on them and I can be a big girl, too. Of course, this doesn't mean cutting them out, it just means doing things for me because I need to and because I can and not depending on another person.

Don't let them treat you like a kid. It's easy to revert when you're back in the place you grew up. But don't let "them" treat you like you're younger than you are. By "them" I'm referring to anyone who might, whether that's the cashier, your uncle Pete, or your parents. If you're in college you're probably an adult and you deserve to be treated like one (as long as you act like one). It probably won't be a conscious decision on anyone' s part to treat you like you're younger than you are, they're just used to it. And you may be used to being treated that way. Remember: you're an adult. If you're anything like me, you're still learning how to be an adult, but reverting to a younger version of you won't help that.

Keep in contact with friends. This may be one of the most important. Make sure to keep in contact with people from school. It will help you feel less isolated at home where you have different friends who don't share the more recent experiences you have had. This year I'm lucky enough to visit some of my friends in Colorado next week, and I have regular Pokemon TCG battles over snapchat with a friend every week (or so). We also do a secret santa book present exchange over Winter Break and that's a fun way to remind each other we exist.

Keep busy but make breaks. You don't want to be bored. It can be the worst thing that can happen. Having a job help eliminate a lot of that for me, but even outside of work I don't want to be bored. I have a list of tasks I need to accomplish at some point, but none that are so pressing that I would get stressed if I didn't finish them right away. It's a good balance. And I never plan to do anything after ten pm or so, and that way I have time to read or watch TV for sure. It's good me time, and since no one is really awake in my house after that it really is peaceful.

Unpack. It's really important that you unpack your bags. I mean, I haven't, yet, but that's because I'm leaving in a week to go to Colorado. As soon as I'm back from that trip they're all getting unpacked. Why? Seeing them sitting there is distressing. Not just because they're a mess but because they make me feel like a stranger in my own house. That's bad. That's not something you want when you want to settle back into your life here.

Don't feel bad for feeling bad. It's okay to feel bad. If others give you a hard time don't let it get to you. Your feelings are valid and they matter and anyone who tries to undermine them either doesn't understand or doesn't care or isn't thinking clearly. Get yourself out of that situation, take deep breaths, try to relax, and if you can talk and it helps, talk to someone who will help. If you don't have that person and you want to talk, just hit me up on twitter where I'm always willing to respond.

I hope these tips help. I know they help me for sure. If you have any of your own advice, let me know in the comments!


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