Being at home from college during summer and winter breaks is a strange experience. When you first return, family and old friends are excited to welcome you back. Your wishes have been granted; you finally get all the things you have been dreaming of all semester! You can finally meet up with all your old friends from high school and middle school. You get to eat all the home cooked meals that you have been raving about for months, and you do not have to pay out of pocket for all that food either! For many students, they finally get a room to themselves again. Not to say that having a roommate is bad, but the freedom of having an entire four walls all to yourself is underrated in my opinion. Let us not forget about the family pet(s)! Oh, the glorious moment when you return and finally get to cuddle with your furry friend 24/7 – something you really needed during that deathly finals exam week. Showers are great again – no more having to wear shower shoes or endure other peoples’ mystery hair on the wall. You are in your domain, and you are taking your shower back! Not to mention you can wash your clothes without needing quarters to operate the washing machine. What a miracle!
So, all your dreams have come true. You are blissfully happy and all is right with the world. Right?
The strange thing is, being home does not feel like how it used to feel. At first, you cannot quite put your finger on what is different. The house is the same, except maybe a couple things here or there have been changed. The couch is new and the television has been moved to the other wall. The sheets on your bed are black now instead of blue. But these changes are small; they are not the reason for why you feel a bit out of place.
You have to follow rules again that you haven’t had to follow for months. You can’t walk out the door and return at 3 a.m. without being questioned. Where have you been? Why are you home so late? What have you been doing? Who have you been hanging out with?
In fact, you cannot take a 30 minute trip to the grocery store across the street without being assailed by a plethora of panicked calls and texts from your parents asking you where you are and when you will be back.
You cannot wear whatever you want without prompting questions. This means “going out” outfits are trickier, but so are “staying in” outfits. Whether you want to lounge around in the same sweatpants all week, or go out in a crop top and short shorts, there is no pleasing the family.
People judge you for your new diet. Eating dinner at midnight is tough, especially if those dinners consist of mac n cheese, fries or ice cream. Yes, you are now used to eating meals at odd hours, and those meals themselves are questionable.
You do not have access to the college gym at odd hours, so you can no longer go for a midnight run. Too bad midnight is when you actually have time to go running.
You get comments about how much you sleep, whether it is too little or too much, too late, or too many random naps – the point is, you are not doing sleep right.
Not to mention all the comments on your weight. Whether the freshmen 15 was gained or lost, everyone notices and wants to make absolutely certain that you are also aware of this fact.
So not everything is “perfect.” And home feels a bit different than you remembered. But to be completely honest with yourself, it isn’t your home that has changed – it’s you. You are growing up. You are in a period of transition, and although you don’t have a new place to call home yet, your old home doesn’t fit you like a glove anymore.
Different does not have to be bad, though. You still love your family and old friends as much as ever, and you would not give up going home for anything. This is simply a time in your life when your place in the world is shifting, and how you relate to friends, family and your home is part of this shift.