Isn’t it lovely to go home for the holidays? The what? Yes, this semester is rapidly moving toward a close, which means it’s almost time for Thanksgiving break, which inevitably leads to finals and then to winter break. For many of us, that means time at home with the family. For some it is a place of joy, festive fellowship and feasting. For others, things aren’t so joyous at home. And there are many experiences in between. There are as many family styles as there are families. There is no universal advice for going back home, but here are a few things to keep in mind that might make the trip home a little easier this year. Expect changes. Many college students can be dismayed to find that their bedroom has been switched to a giant storage closet or claimed by a sibling. What can feel like a loud-and-clear “glad you’re gone!” message can often be your family’s way of saying “we miss you, and it’s too hard to look at your room the way it was.” Practice “adulting.” Whether you are staying with friends or family, consider how to be a good guest. Pick up after yourself.
Communicate about your whereabouts. With parents, you are now navigating a new adult-adult relationship; it usually takes some time to transition away from an adult-child relationship. Be honest about your needs and be willing to compromise. Address these issues as openly as possible. Also acknowledge (at least to yourself) the areas where your values differ. Connect to friends. Stay connected to friends at Pacific while you’re at home or reconnect with friends from home.
These are relationships you have developed and nurtured, and they can provide much-needed enjoyment and support during breaks. With old friends, you will likely notice that they have changed, and they will notice that you have changed, as you’ve each had new and different experiences.
Wherever you are and whomever you are with, take care of yourself. Treat yourself this holiday to a little TLC: a day in pajamas, a beautiful hike, a movie, sleeping in, yummy food. As good as it can be to get away from the daily grind at Pacific, we can feel at loose ends without a routine. Take time for yourself in your own balance of time with others. Get some exercise – walking, swimming, running, skiing, hiking, rowing, dancing – any kind! Accept that school is not yet over for the semester and do a bit of schoolwork if you need to – you will thank yourself once you are back in class and staring finals.
Be gentle with yourself and others. Your relationships with your family and your friends go through significant changes during your college years. While it would be great if everyone “got it” from day one, that’s just not how it works. Even in the closest of families, there are old hurts, difficult memories, and some very well-established roles to deal with. Take a deep breath, pass the green beans to your left and open your heart to whatever is coming next.