21 May 2014

When the College Kids Come Home...

There is nothing, nothing more bittersweet than being home for summer break. I can walk around barefoot, I have my own room and bathroom and no shower shoes! I can call mom when something is going wrong, and she'll probably be able to fix it. The fridge is always usually stocked with good food, and there's plenty of room to just live and be. At the same time, it's back to high school drama, there isn't always something going on, and it's back to living with the house rules an lots of conversation that normally wouldn't happen at school. I've only been home two weeks now, but trust me on this one. So, this post is for both college kids and parents and how to handle living together... again. Because it is so different once you've lived apart.

1. Relationships
College relationships, both friendly and romantic, are just different. I like to blame it on social media, but it's a lot more wishy-washy. We aren't going to know the life story of every person we claim to be "friends" with, because that title could just be that we talk in class, mutually follow each other on social media, or hang out at the same places on the weekend. As a general rule, unless a person is brought up on a regular basis, they probably aren't what a parent would consider a "friend" (I know this only because my mom has told me many times that the definition of friend is much different now) and so they're going to ask questions to gauge the level of relationship. Parents: don't. We'll talk about it if it's something that matters to us. I'm saving you the frustration/fight that will inevitably occur from this disconnect.

2. Curfew
There is no curfew in college. Food is delivered at all hours, which means we can be awake at all hours. Coming home to a curfew is a lot like giving a high school senior a 10 pm lights- out time. *disclaimer: I have never really had a curfew or bed time, so this is just observations after talking to friends* It's such an easy way to build trust on both ends and, as long as the kid has given you no reason to believe that they're doing anything wrong, there's really no reason to have a curfew. At school, we managed to get to class on 4 hours of sleep and we're still alive. If there's a reason to go to sleep early one night, a reminder of said early morning will suffice. I had good time-management before college, but I now have good time management while functioning on caffeine and carbs alone. Probably not healthy, but it gets the job done. Parents: trust your kids. They will appreciate it.

3. Sleeping
All I have to say is this: we have been surviving on unhealthy amounts of sleep and caffeine for the past 8 months (see #2). Sleeping on a normal (read: Queen) sized bed is like heaven. We are not lazy if we stay in our beds until noon or later, we are simply enjoying the luxury of home. Parents: don't call us lazy unless you want an angry kid.

4. Jobs/ Internships/ Anything to be Successful
I saved the best for last! I like to think that most college students are pretty driven and want to be successful... it's an awful expensive 4 years of socialization if not. So, it's safe to say that getting job experience and building a resume is constantly in the back of our minds. It is for me, at least. I feel so selfish sometimes, but every opportunity I am given is evaluated on a "can this be worked into my resume" basis. I can only speak for myself, but I know how competitive the job markets are right now. I know that I need to be getting experience and great contacts. I know these things. I also know that my parents have my best interests at heart and just want to help me to be as prepared and competitive as possible. But I do enough of my worrying and trying to get everything to work in my favor, so hearing about it all the time from my parents can get so frustrating and it makes me feel so worthless. I've thought it over in my head, I've taken the rejection letters and the lost opportunities hard enough so a constant reminder that a certain job would be "great for my resume, etc" is heartbreaking to hear. From one fully driven, stressed daughter to parents of similar girls/ students: I am asking you to please stop. I love talking about the things that I'm working on and how they'll be great resume builders. I don't mind talking about the internships and jobs I'm looking at working towards. I hate being reminded of how great something would be if I've already mentally worked through the chances of me getting the job, etc and realizing that I'm just not ready/qualified at this point. It is heartbreaking.

Being home is wonderful. I love my family, my dog, and being able to see both old and new friends. I love summer, cookouts by the pool, and concerts. Being home is definitely different now that I've been away- both bitter and sweet- and I am working on making the most of it. It's been hard to adjust to helping around the house again, especially when cleaning the dorm room took about 2 minutes (one pro to living in a closet). I've found that the most important things is to just communicate. About everything. Otherwise our conversations become intense questioning sessions. I'm still learning how to do this gracefully and with a good attitude and there's a good chance I won't have it mastered by the end of this summer. It's no secret that the parent-child dynamic changes and some things matter more than others. For me, these are what really get on my nerves... for now. But I can't complain because I'm sure I get on my parents' nerves too.