Winter Break is Weird

Winter Break is Weird

5 things I'm thinking when inevitable post-New Year's boredom sets in
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As a new college student, this is my first winter break coming home for the holidays, seeing my family for the first time in a while, reconnecting with my old friends, returning to my church, and remembering how normal my hometown used to feel. Since Christmas and New Year's Eve are both over and I'm in that weird place that is the first week of the year--all the high schools are back in session, my parents have gone back to work, and most of my friends are leaving to head back to school--it has begun to dawn on me how odd this season of life truly feels.

1. Your home is not your "home."

And that's ok. I believe that college is useful for teenagers. It helps us to grow in independence and become more like adults, it allows us to select our own friends out of a huge pool of people, and it allows us to figure out who we really are (that sounds cliché, but that has really happened in the past four months I have been in school). However, along with all this great growth and change comes distance--and I don't just mean physical distance-- from your previous home. As I sit in our local coffee shop where I spent countless afternoons throughout my junior and senior years of high school, I constantly think I see people I know, but they turn out to be new faces who have come to live in my hometown, and I have no idea who they are.

My house felt almost like a hotel the first time I returned home. I regretfully left my friends for break, drove home, walked into a recently redone bathroom, and I felt out of place. Don't get me wrong, my bathroom needed to be redone: but there's something about seeing the process happen that makes the room feel a little more like a remodeling and a little less like a new house altogether.

My bed at home is a little less comfortable than my bed in my dorm, I'm living out of a suitcase because I don't want to unpack in order to save myself some time when I have to go back to school, and I feel as if I am not truly home.

2. Your friends are not as close.

To seniors in high school this year: your friends will drift away from you unless you go to college with them (and even then I don't know what happens because college is a time of such change). Even if you went to a small high school, those people who you've been around for ten or more years will drift. But, you know what? That, too, is ok. That doesn't mean that you don't like them any more or that they don't like you any more. That doesn't mean that you can't still have fun with them. It just means that now you have different friends who live with you, and your old friends are in the same boat. Catching up is something that is difficult because in order for me to rehash certain stories of stupid things my college friends and I have done (pictured below), my high school friends would have to know who my college friends are, know the context, know the place. And that's just not the case.

I've found that it just takes a little more time to rekindle that friendship. It takes a little more time that you'd like for you and your friends to get used to the changes you've both undergone. It's like you're becoming friends again. In a way, I think that's healthy because a lot of times, friends who have been friends for years forget that people change. They neglect to continue getting to know that person they think they know better than anyone, and they stick that person with the same labels they were stuck with in middle school.

The change experienced in college as well as the distance put between old friends are all healthy, normal things, and they should be embraced. Who knows? You may even become better friends after re-getting to know your old friends.

3. You miss never being alone.

I used to be an introvert, and I used to need a significant amount of alone time during the day so I didn't get overwhelmed socially. However, now I'm an extrovert, and being alone--even when I'm studying--is hard. Being alone brings more distraction than being around my friends. When it was still the Christmas/New Year's season, my family was around every day, and I had things to do. However, after January third, my brother was back in school, my parents were back at work, and I had spent as much at our local coffee shop as I could bear.

To be frank, I've been bored. I don't have anything to do during the day because I have no schoolwork, the house can only be so clean, and only so much food can be cooked before it becomes wasteful. For example, today I made two quiches, a pot of soup, and a cup of coffee (with steamed milk and everything!!!), and I cleaned up after myself for the most part. Whether those two quiches will be eaten before they go bad is another story.

In short, I miss being around people all the time. I miss being able to hang out with someone for free! I miss being able to walk off of my hall and talk to my best friends. There is nothing wrong with a little solitude here and there, but at one point this girl needs to be submerged in society.

4. You're afraid the next semester may not be the same as the first.

On the day that we left for winter break, I was feeling a little down. I told my roommate that I was a little sad to be leaving all our friends, and then I realized that the upside to that situation is that I actually HAVE friends close enough to be so sad to leave them. I spent the day saying goodbye to people, wishing them a merry Christmas, and I hugged my best friends before they left me to take my last exam. My roommate and I were supposed to leave at 5:00PM, and we were ready by then, but we lingered a little longer in our lobby and made the semester last a little longer.

When we were alone, my roommate told me she was afraid next semester may not be the same as this one and we may be disappointed. Yes, this semester was amazing--it was the best four months of my life--but it can still get better, right? I went into the break thinking that, and slowly but surely, the doubt began to creep in. I began to think that maybe next semester will be disappointing. Maybe my reunions with all my friends will not be as beautiful as I think they will be. Maybe I won't love my classes as much as I think I will. Maybe I'm not actually as close to these people as I thought and the distance will hurt our relationships rather than help them.

But that's just not true.

I keep having to tell myself that next semester will be as amazing as the first. Just because the new has worn off doesn't mean that I'm doomed to boredom for the rest of my four years.

5. You begin to really feel like an adult.

I drove myself and two friends to a dressy New Year's Eve party in Atlanta, and we all survived. I felt very adult-like when I walked into the venue wearing a cocktail dress, hung up my coat, scarf, and bag, danced until 12:30AM, then drove home.

I also opened my own bank account separate from my parents' yesterday, and I recently discovered that I'll be paying my own credit card bill. Adulthood is hitting me like a freight train. Strangely, though, I love it. I love being independent. Coming home and having to make plans to pack, drive back to school, and go to the grocery store to buy food makes me feel like I'm 28 instead of 18. That may seem dramatic, and I know people have experienced varying levels of independence before college (probably some very different from my experience), but if I've gleaned anything from going through a semester in college and then transitioning back to essentially high school, it's that once adulthood starts it's hard to stop it. I feel the need to budget all my spendings, even if it's just money I set aside to spend on myself. I feel the need to save my precious Amazon gift cards for things I actually need rather than frivolous things I'll use twice and then forget about. I feel the need to split my saving and spending sixty-forty rather than fifty-fifty.

My parents no longer ask me to text them when I get across town, and they no longer uphold my curfew.

I cooked my own lunch from scratch, and I washed all my dishes.

I played with my dog so he wouldn't destroy everything we own (though it didn't really work).

I can honestly say that coming home for winter break was an experience that I didn't think would be as eye-opening as it was, but I cannot wait to go back to school. This may be the only time in my entire life that I have wished that school would start back the day after New Year's, but I wouldn't trade that feeling for the world.

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

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To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.

Sincerely,

A third-year nursing student who knows

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To The High School Graduating Seniors

I know you're ready, but be ready.

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Seniors,

I am not going to say anything about senioritis because I was ready to get out of there and I'm sure you are too; however, in your last months living at home you should take advantage of the luxuries you will not have in a college dorm. The part of college seen in movies is great, the rest of it is incredibly inconvenient. It is better to come to terms with this While you still have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy yourself.

Perhaps one of the most annoying examples is the shower. Enjoy your hot, barefoot showers now because soon enough you will have no water pressure and a drain clogged with other people's hair. Enjoy touching your feet to the floor in the shower and the bathroom because though it seems weird, it's a small thing taken away from you in college when you have to wear shoes everywhere.

Enjoy your last summer with your friends. After this summer, any free time you take is a sacrifice. For example, if you want to go home for the summer after your freshman year and be with your friends, you have to sacrifice an internship. If you sacrifice an internship, you risk falling behind on your resume, and so on. I'm not saying you can't do that, but it is not an easy choice anymore.

Get organized. If you're like me you probably got good grades in high school by relying on your own mind. You think I can remember what I have to do for tomorrow. In college, it is much more difficult to live by memory. There are classes that only meet once or twice a week and meeting and appointments in between that are impossible to mentally keep straight. If you do not yet have an organizational system that works for you, get one.

I do not mean to sound pessimistic about school. College is great and you will meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that will stick with you for most of your life. I'm just saying be ready.

-A freshman drowning in work

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