While we are all eager to *finally* take a break from the (seemingly perpetual) stress of college, there may be new challenges that await us when we arrive home. From the evidence of our wild college antics to dealing with a crazy family, sometimes worse disasters can arise in the comfort of our home. So for all of those potential disasters that worry us as we count down the days until we come home, here are ways to handle some of our most dreaded concerns about Thanksgiving break:
The Potential Disaster: You went a little wild a night or two prior to coming home for Thanksgiving break.
You have to not act like you're completely hungover when your parents see you. And you cannot wait until Grandma asks what that red mark is on your neck at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Although it's tough, the thing to do is to be upfront and honest about what happened if you're questioned. Everyone knows you're in college and the chances are that most (if not all) of the people who will be seeing you did something similar. And it might be in your best interest to wear a scarf or a turtleneck on Thanksgiving day.
The Potential Disaster: You gained the Freshman 15, the Sophomore 30, or [Insert Year Here] [Insert Pounds Gained]. You are very worried about when people see you looking the way you do.
Most people's weights fluctuate in college (mine did) but you are just waiting for the first relative to body shame you at the dinner table. First of all, we often don't look as different as we think so you may not have anything to worry about. But even if you think you do (or someone says you do), remember that it is your body. What that means is you can either own the body you have, work with what you've got by wearing flattering clothes, or make a lifestyle change. Easier said than done, but remember that gaining weight in college is hard to avoid and anyone that body shames you has their own problem.
The Potential Disaster: You know you are going to be asked about how your year is going at college but to be honest, you aren't loving it.
First thing's first: don't overshare the negative aspects. I learned that, even though my first year wasn't bad, when I focused too much on the negative, it made people believe I "hated school" and "was depressed." Instead, for every problem you have, think of its positive side and share that. And if that's too difficult, just respond that you're "still getting adjusted" or "working really hard" or "hope to [insert future goal here]." That way, you don't exude any negative energy.
The Potential Disaster: Your professors had the gall to assign large amounts of work over break and this break may not seem like as much of a break at all.
The key is to plan, plan, plan. First, as tough as this may be, take a day to do absolutely nothing and not worry about your work. That strategy always worked for me because I would always feel refreshed afterwards, whether it was at the beginning, middle, or end of the break. And for the days you have to do your work, set a timer. Take one hour to focus on chemistry, one hour to focus on calculus, then take a one hour break. Or find a timing method that helps you get your work done efficiently.
The Potential Disaster: You're home and all of your hometown friends want to make fun plans but...you're broke.
Here's the good news: many of your friends are probably broke college students as well. And even if not, there are many inexpensive ways to reconnect with your friends that are not expensive. Plan a movie night in, go for a hike, or drive around town and look at the people putting up their Christmas lights (my personal favorite). Honestly, it is very unnecessary to break the bank just to spend time with others.
The Potential Disaster: You recently called it quits with a hometown boyfriend/girlfriend (or vice versa) and you're both going to be in town at the exact same time and his/her friends were your friends.
The beauty of college is that it is an opportunity for all of us to move on. In all likelihood, (s)he has moved on as well, so you are less likely to cross paths. And even if you do, you're all grown-ups now. Handle your now ex with the same class and dignity that you would anyone else, even if you are harboring some bitterness. It's not the end of the world, I promise.
The Potential Disaster: You know you're going to be asked how your grades are doing but you late dropped one class from a poor grade and you're barely staying afloat in your other classes.
Honestly, your grades are nobody's business, so you have every right to be vague about them. You can just explain that your classes are tough (let's face it: college classes are), you are putting forth your best effort (which is really all that matters), and you are doing everything you can to keep them up. If someone asks for your GPA and letter grades (which I doubt anyone would), that person has a bigger problem and you are not obliged to share.
The Potential Disaster: You have a brand new tattoo/piercing/dye job and your parents and/or your extended family coming for Thanksgiving are not aware of it.
If you are super afraid of their reaction to whatever modification(s) you have, the best thing to do is stay nonchalant about it until somebody asked. If questioned, play it off that you were feeling adventurous and remind them that your body is not your resume. Also, bear in mind that (1) you are an adult now and can make the decision to look how you want and (2) many of us make impulse decisions in college so it may not actually be that big of a deal.
The Potential Disaster: You are bringing home a significant other for the first time and you are afraid your family is going to find red flags left and right.
Family comes first so if they have concerns about your boyfriend or girlfriend, it's important to hear out their concerns. If the problem is something that is concerning (like rudeness or disrespect to your family), then it's best to listen to your family since it might be in your best interest to rethink this romance. Otherwise, if it is something as trivial as physical appearance, you are grown now and you can be the judge. Ultimately, it's your life and it's your relationship.
The Disaster: You have a much shorter break than the rest of your friends.
Time to get your planner out and find out how to make the most of it! Well, it's important to spend time with friends, it's important to spend time with family, and if you are unlucky enough to have a boatload of work, it's important to focus on school. If you really list your priorities and decide how to spend your time, you actually may make more out of your 3-day break than your friends with a full week. It's never bad to be busy!