Away At School
You’ve counted the days. You met with your roommate. You shopped. You packed. You rolled your eyes at your parents. You couldn’t wait to get to the dorm/apartment. Out from under their glare and constant surveillance AT LAST. You thought they’d never go home and leave you to your well earned life.
And for days, now, you’ve been crying yourself to sleep. WTH?
You have experienced a loss, and are grieving it. Welcome to adulthood.
The most important thing you need to know is that you’re okay. This is normal. It will pass.
It is human nature to want to turn to the source of comfort and unconditional love at various times. That may be a parent, or someone else. Your age doesn’t matter. Even if the Comforter is deceased, we all have times when we long to be with them, just for a bit. This happens in times of stress, and during major life events.
The changes to your life style when moving away from home have been long anticipated, but are nonetheless stressful. On the one hand, you’re happy there is no one watching over you. But at times that little voice says OMG, there’s no one watching over me! What if something happens? What if I don’t know what to do? Am I really prepared for this?
The answer is no. But the only way to gain life skills is to get out there, stumble, fall, and learn from it. Preferably without harm. Presumably you’ve had some coaching up to this point. Recall your early training, and you’ll be fine.
So what loss are you mourning?
Youth, for one. You won’t ever be that high school kid again, with some lame homework to do while someone cooked for you and saw to your needs. Proms and games are over. Your job is no longer for shoes and music downloads. If you don’t work, you don’t eat, or get lab time, or feed the laundry machines, or pay fines and fees. Your BFFs may be nowhere near. And if you do get into trouble, the only one to get you out is the one in the mirror. This transition has a major suck factor.
Dreams are lost. You’ve been going under the assumption for a while that the adult grass was always greener. Surprise! It comes at great cost and sacrifice. Someone probably tried to tell you that. Whatever.
Freedom. The one thing you thought you’d gain is the most illusive. That’s a shock, and you’re not going get over it for a while. Your chores and family commitments have been replaced by class schedules, study time, curfews, local laws, space sharing and – AARGHGH! - responsibility. Relax. You’ll get used to it. Please note that it does not say here that you’ll like it. Some folks never do. Nor is it easy. The important things never are.
You’ve vacated your prime support network. They’re not lost, exactly, but they’re not in the next room any more, either. No matter what level of financial support you still get, there’s a lot more that you now have to assume. There’s no one to notice your frown or sagging shoulders and ask what’s wrong. It doesn’t matter who you are, or how old you get, there are just times you want a hug! In your present environment, that’s not always possible. Rather than support coming to you automatically, you now have to reach out. It’s hard. And dealing with siblings doesn’t hold a match to roommate issues!
BFFs. Even if some are still nearby, those relationships will change. They need to change, for growth. The days of rehashing each episode of Gossip Girl will be replaced by serious discussions as you all try to adapt to this new phase. Some of the talk may be of a life and death nature. This is good, healthy. But there will be times that a Simpsons marathon may be called for. Go ahead. Just don’t get lost. Shout out to somebody if you need help getting back.
Now, a great secret of the universe can be revealed to you. You’ve earned it. Ready?
Those people you left behind, couldn’t wait to get away from? They’re shedding some tears, too. Mom is dealing with losing her little girl, in a sense. Dad may be feeling useless. Will they tell you? NOT. They wouldn’t want to burden you. They probably are feeling a little confused, even silly, about the whole thing.
So, go ahead and call home to ask if your blue sweater got left in your bottom drawer. Ask your Dad when you need to put air in your tires. Ask your sibling if your Chia Pet is still living. Hopefully, the conversation will go on until you are all ROTFLYAO. And it’ll feel gooood. It’s what everybody needs. It’s called coping.
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