My Family–For Real.
Those are peanuts in their
noses mouths face holes.
From left: Grandpa, little sister Mazie, Mom, and Grandma (in front)
It’s hard to believe my first year away at college is over. It seems like yesterday that I was moving in my furniture in the hot August air and waving goodbye as my grandparents drove away. I remember the sinking feeling in my gut as I realized I was left to start this new journey on my own. No longer would I have my grandparents right at the bottom of the stairs to talk to when I got bored. No longer would I make my grandma fruit salad every morning for breakfast. No longer would I have dinner with both of them each evening. No longer would we watch bad singing competitions every week. On the other hand however, no longer would I have to live at home where at times it could be difficult to study. No longer would I have to ask permission to leave the house. No longer would I have to answer to anyone but myself.
Don’t get me wrong though, I love my grandparents for all that they have always done and continue to do for me and I’m so happy to be returning home for the summer, but when I moved into my own place last August it was truly time for me to take the next step in my life towards my independence. And I truly can’t thank my grandparents enough for nourishing me, encouraging me, and letting me take that step all on my own.
And for the first few weeks of school, I was thrilled. I loved everything about my campus, my apartment, my classes, and my freedom. It wasn’t until around the middle of September that it finally hit me: I wasn’t going home any time soon. I had adjusted to living with my grandparents and commuting to school so much the previous year that it felt abnormal to commit myself solely to “college life,” whatever that even meant. Anxiety crept up on me and I felt out of place, shy, and confused. It seemed everyone knew what they wanted to study, had friends, and didn’t need me to hang around like a lost puppy. I felt discouraged, but persevered in the hopes that I’d slowly assimilate to my new lifestyle even though it seemed impossible back then.
In order to manage my anxiety, I started seeing a counselor once a week off campus and it made all the difference. For one hour a week, I was able to indulge my inner narcissist and talk about only myself and my worries, my fears, my struggles; and best of all my accomplishments and triumphs. Throughout the year, I learned how to cope with anxiety in healthy ways, learned how to identify anxiety-binding behaviors, was able to find my niche in my academics and with a couple of close friends, and most importantly learned to accept the people in my life for who they are.
This last lesson has been extremely helpful in maintaining relationships with my family, who at times (like all families) can be hard to handle, especially when my mom and sister moved in last summer. There are so many conflicting personalities and attitudes working against each other in such a small space that it can be hard at times to get along. I used to create expectations in my mind of what my family should be like and would be disappointed when I’d return home for a weekend or a school vacation to find that they hadn’t changed at all. But by learning to accept the members in my family for who they are—who they have been, and who they are most likely going to be—I have been able to create better relationships with each of them and know that accepting them is essential to living with them this summer and staying in a positive and healthy mindset. I have learned that there are no shoulds, only what is.
Now, as I head home for the summer, I know the best ways of how to live in an environment that can sometimes be tricky to navigate. I look forward to the plans I have made to keep me occupied over the summer (which I will be blogging about very soon! Stay tuned!) and can’t wait to have my grandma cook dinner for me. Lord knows (if you believe in that sort of thing), I’m sick of my own bad cooking.