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Opinion

Ask Colleen: Home for the holidays

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December 8, 2016

Dear Colleen,

As the holidays approach, I am worried about going back to my hometown. High school wasn’t a terrible time for me, but I when I came to college I had a falling out with a lot of my friends from high school and I am worried about seeing people around. I don’t want to be constantly reminded of the friends I once had, so what do I do?

From,
Doesn’t want to feel left out

Dear Doesn’t want to feel left out,

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you asking this question. With the holidays fast approaching, this is definitely something a lot of people can relate to and are anxious about.

Like you said, high school doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience in order for you to not want to go back to your hometown. For some people, college is their way out of their home life or just a bad situation. No matter the case, after you graduate, going back to your hometown is never going to be the same. This is super cliché, but people really do change when they go to college and experience a new world. For many people, college becomes their new home and they never look back.

I’m currently a senior, and I’ve spent the last three j-terms going back to my hometown. Honestly, each of those times have been different. At first, I spent a lot of time with my high school friends, but as time went on I saw less and less of them. I definitely enjoy seeing them, but life really does get in the way and everyone becomes busy.

I also started to spend less and less time at home as I was creating my own life and relationships at college. The older you get, the more independent you become and sometimes going home isn’t that fun. At first it seems like a dream because your family likes to take care of you, but that only lasts about a week.

Going home for me meant that I would lose my freedom and have two parents wanting to know where I was at all times. I had a very strict and unnecessarily early curfew when I was in high school, and I knew after the holidays were over and my parents went back to work, I would have to follow that same curfew again. What I am trying to get at here is that not everyone will come back and it might not even have to do with high school.

This j-term, you might be heading home, but that doesn’t mean a different opportunity next j-term won’t come up. You shouldn’t let a falling out with your high school friends stop you from going home if that is what you want to do. You have every right to be there and enjoy your time with friends and family just like everyone else.

Even now when I go home and run into some high school friends or even just acquaintances, I am always shocked by how everyone changes. It’s like we all have this preconceived idea of who everyone is in high school, but that’s not always the truth. When I went home for j-term, there was basically a mini reunion at a local restaurant. At first I felt super uncomfortable, because it felt like everyone from my high school was there. But it ended up being really fun and I got to catch up with a lot of old friend. Even people who I never talked to ended up being very welcoming and came right up to me and started a conversation. I get that it can be awkward, but it’s only as awkward as you make it. You may have had some falling out with friends back then, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start new friendships now.

However, I can totally relate to what you said about having to see those people. It’s definitely hard and opens up old wounds. The people who you were once friends with in high school aren’t always going to be your best friends for the rest of your life. It happens, how can it not?

With everyone going to different schools and relocating their life, it’s inevitable that some relationships won’t remain as strong. With that being said, it still doesn’t make it any easier. Try not to focus on the relationships that you don’t have, but focus on the ones that you do. I understand your hesitation in not wanting to go back. Some chapters in life are just not meant to be opened again.

You never know; maybe you’ll reconnect with those you once lost contact with. Either way, have fun and enjoy the break from school. We all know how draining finals week can be. I usually spend my first days of break catching up on sleep. Keep yourself busy, because j-term goes by unusually fast.

Best of luck,

Colleen

Colleen Brown is a student at UW-River Falls.