By: Mariam Khalil
It’s reading week! Yes! Free from waking up every day to a strict schedule of classes, balancing a slew of meetings, assignments, and midterms. Home sweet home… at last!
That is, until, you are actually reminded what exactly reading week entails… home.
Home means parents. Parents mean chores and less independence. It means awkward dinner conversations which most likely lead to consistent nagging, and the oh so dreaded question: “Hey Bob. What are you planning to do after graduation?”
Relax. Take a deep breath.
I’ve compiled a how-to-guide on attaining the smoothest transition from school-to-home for this Reading Week.
Living on our own has taught us a great deal of independence. But as a student who currently is (and always has) lived with her family, I’m telling you there will be a LOAD of help needed when you are in a family home vs. a single bachelor/bachelorette home. For example, you will probably have to get up early, clean rooms, do laundry, or help set the table for conjoined meal times. A little 20-minute job here-and-there, won’t hurt you too much. So show your independence and maturity by accommodating your family.
Sure, you may be used to doing chores. It may even be no problem for you at all. But being home with parents means that your time is no longer limited to yourself. In fact, most things you do, will be under a specific time-frame. You may even have to deal with a curfew… (what the heck is that again!?)
I understand that it’s tough to come home to the request of parents when for so long you’ve been planning your days just the way we want them, but try to be sympathetic to the fact that no matter how much you grow, your parents will always see you as their “little children” and will try to instill rules, because that’s the tried-and-true way they know how to love and protect their babies.
3. Dinner Convos
From uncomfortable topics of controversial elections to family drama and future academic choices, you know that whatever it is, guests will be exchanging grimaces by the end of the night. What happened? You could swear that everyone was just laughing and smiling minutes ago. And all that food you’ve prepared, and those beautiful table decorations. Oh boy, you could cut the tension with a knife.
So what should you do when asked a difficult question? I call it the sandwich technique!
- A past achievement – say something that makes you feel accomplished and proud of yourself
- A present feeling – state the current position you are in, and how it makes you feel
- A future direction – name something you are aspiring towards, and keeps you hopeful
Utilizing the past, present and future, this technique displays that you have had a productive year, that you are self-aware, and that you are working towards a future action plan.
Example” “I am really proud of doing X this year, I feel great, but also I feel sad that I couldn’t do more, so now I am planning to do XX. I am really exploring this option right now and I can’t wait what 2017 has in store for me!”
Often when we answer difficult questions like these, our insecurities display themselves in our answer. The sandwich technique leaves for a much less disappointing response. The key is in a confident tone of voice and a positive forward approach.
Nailed it like a pro!
4. Uncomfortable Situations
Some situations are just too uncomfortable to sit through sometimes. And in all honesty, you really don’t owe anyone an answer at all. Private topics should be just that: private. So sometimes, you do need to escape the conversation altogether.
One thing people LOVE is to talk about themselves. Certainly, you can use this to your advantage. Instead of answering questions, plan to ask questions to others in advance. The more you get them talking, the less you will feel pressured to discuss your own life with them as well.
Ask questions about their family, their job, their house, their recent travels. Ask deeper questions, like what they’re passionate about right now. If they have pets or babies, these are sure to give you minutes of stories or even pictures to occupy the time. The more you seem excited and interested in other peoples’ lives, the more likely they won’t even notice what’s going on with you.
Ask the question, “why?”
If the thought of this is still giving you anxiety and the gathering is not that important, or the upcoming party members will stress you out, then consider planning around it. You don’t have to go to everything. Remember, that this break is also your opportunity to relax.
So we all miss home, right?
It’s a complete package: you cannot pick or choose. It can be a bit overwhelming after being on your own for so long. But, at the end of the day, your family usually does want what’s best for you.
But hey! Look on the bright side! You are finally free from the stresses of school and you get to join with those who are the dearest to your heart and YES, you probably won’t have to worry about the groceries! (Time to save some money)
I understand that going home can feel like a mental chore for a lot of students, and each for their own reason. But this feeling is up to you. Remember that “you cannot control situations, but you CAN control how you react to them.” So, YOU have the POWER to make it a blissful time.
It’s important to think about how we want to spend our time this Reading Break, giving ourselves time to mentally prepare for upcoming conversations and temporary changes. I hope these suggestions will make that (bitter, but mostly sweet) university-home transition a little easier.
Mariam Khalil blogged for the Student Success Centre from 2016 to 2017.