The Confusion Of Leaving College And Coming 'Home' For The Holidays

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Sophomore year has a tendency to be referred to as the “Sophomore Slump.”

Much to my dismay, I have come to find this to be true in many ways.

Doe-eyed freshman are the bright, shiny new attractions for others to feast their eyes on.

Juniors are gearing up to take off on their study abroad adventures, leaving their minds free to ignore the domestic scheme of things.

Seniors, well they have one foot out the door, either already set or frantically looking to make their first big career move post-student life.

Us sophomores ... well, we’ve done this before. College isn't new, but it’s also not old.

Gone are the days of “undecided” and large, perhaps even aimless lecture classes.

Before you know it, it becomes increasingly less acceptable to be uncertain of your major with what feels like a concrete clock weighted upon our shoulders counting down the seconds you have left to declare.

Your first year might have been everything you hoped it would be and more, leaving you to have nothing but absurdly high expectations for the sophomore effort.

On the other hand, maybe you barely made it back again for round two and were banking on it being an improvement.

Either way, there is too much expectation, too much room for disappointment and an inescapable rut that has been coined by many as the sophomore slump.

Holidays are a time of family, and when the wind gets brisk and the snow starts to fall, there is nothing I want more than to shower in my bare feet for as long as I please, and eat food not from a meal plan and preferably made by my mother.

But summer was long. I was ready to come back to the Midwest, unsure of the role I now occupied in my old life.

Gone were the days of my high school routine, the coffee route to school and the late night kickbacks.

I found my college self lost in the very place I had called my home forever.

I even often found myself yearning for the close quartered twin bed I had since recently grown accustomed to.

Now, in the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving has come around. For many college students, it's a universal time when any and all head back home for the holidays.

I’ve done this before; I’ve busted through the front door to find my mom poised excitedly while gripping a filled champagne flute.

The first time I returned home, I was greeted with smiles and hugs.

For Christmas, I was met with gifts and goodies neatly placed upon my perfectly made bed. And finally, for spring break, I arrived to find my favorite home cooked meal wafting from the cooktop.

After several quick hometown visits since the start of my first semester last year, the smiles and the hugs have become a little less excited and a little less encompassing.

As my family has grown more and more accustomed to me living outside of my home, my exits are no longer met with tears and the goodbyes aren’t nearly as lengthy.

For them, I suppose it does in fact get easier. However, for me -- and I’m sure for the many other sophomores out there-- you only miss them more.

It seems like just yesterday I became a resident of Ann Arbor, MI.

But without even noticing it, I bring an umbrella and heavy coat with me every place I go out of habit. I crave the cheap late night delivery food that fits snuggly into my college budget.

Has home simply relocated?

I guess what I want to say is that sophomore year is a slump in many ways -- a feeling that leaves you lost and flung out by the wayside.

I miss my family just the same, if not more than I did the very first day I left.

Being gone more than a year, I have been forced to accept the fact that I may never truly feel at “home” ever again. I might never again feel like my parents’ child in the same way that I did as an adolescent.

But I’m not on my own yet either.

I’m in limbo.

Yes, I enjoy the freedom of the no curfew and the perhaps “slack” drinking rules at home just shy of the legal age.

But sometimes the one thing I would give the world to have is a day spent running errands with my mom, tagging along to the grocery store just as I did when I was five or simply watching a funny reality show as a family on our sprawled out sectional.

Parents and loved ones, please don’t forget about us.

Trust me, we haven’t forgotten about you.

As a freshman, coming home for Thanksgiving was a reality check:

Did so and so from junior year gain the freshman 15? Is he transferring? We were all playing catch up with each other.

At this point, we’ve been caught up, life has moved on and we’re supposedly supposed to have our sh*t together.

So family, if we’re at the table cutting the turkey and you inquire about my major or my future, I only have a few words for you: I’ll get there, but I’ll still need you help along the way.

I’m not ready to let you go just yet.