I’ve been working with college students and young adults for the past six years. Every year i get to work with new students who are incredibly creative, intelligent, compassionate, and the list goes on. It is a privilege to walk with these young students at such a pivotal and transitory time in their lives. One concept that i’ve been sharing with my students is, whether they know it or not, they are auditioning for the role of an adult.
Take for an example this upcoming winter break, i’ve been telling some of my students that when you go back home you have another chance to show/prove to your parents that you’re maturing, that you’ve grown up.
Many of my students have complained that when they do go home, especially for an extended time, they don’t like how they are treated like they are 16 years old all over again. My follow up question is always, But do you give them reason to treat you like a 16 year old? They usually respond with what do you mean? I ask again, when you go back home for break, do usually come home with a bag of laundry, throw it to your mom like she’s your maid, drop on the couch and take a nap, and when your mom has kindly made you dinner to eat with the family, you run off to go hang out with old high school friends instead. And on top of that you come home real late, way past 2 or 3 am. What are your poor parents suppose to do? You may have been studying and sleeping early every night in college, but they don’t know that, they just see your behavior when you are home, what are they to think? And how are they suppose to treat you when you show irresponsible teenage activities? Like poor communication (saying you’ll be home before midnight but coming home way later or not really pitching in around the house at all, just sleeping in until 1pm)
Going home should feel like home. After battling finals, sleeping 6 hours all week, one only has fumes left. We are grouchy, difficult to be with, and on top of that we probably smell pretty bad. What if we studied earlier, what if we slept a little more during finals week, what if when we got back home we’re not a hot pile of mess. But we’re ready to connect with our family members. Albeit for many college students, home is a difficult place, filled with broken promises, misunderstandings, unfair expectations, etc. But regardless you have grown, physically, academically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually too. Don’t miss it. You get to audition for the role of an adult. No more kids table behavior, time to man (or woman) up!
Do the dishes, just do it! Don’t ask if you should, just do it. If your parents have errands, volunteer yourself to go do the mundane stuff…if it’s really boring bring an old friend along to serve your family together. Over communicate with your family, and keep your word about simple things like coming back home on time after hanging out with friends. Actually choose not to go out with some buddies sometimes to actually be around the house. Stay a little longer, linger with family, even if its super awkward, you’ll never know what could come out of it. If we got up and left every time it was just a little weird or awkward, there’s not a chance for a family to grow and thrive together. This winter break, show your parents that you love them & tell them too. Be present with them. Be an adult. You’ll do great! By the time you’re done with college, you’ll have a body of work that your parents will only be that much more confidant you are ready for the real world.