Exactly How To Talk To Your Peeps Back Home
A lot of feels can spring up when you leave campus and go home for winter break. Some happy, some ... jumbled. You are, dare we say it, becoming a full-on grown up! And that can lead to some complex situations when you’re hanging out with your fam and old crew. Although you’re spending time with the people you love, for many, such togetherness is not without its stressors. Here are some tips on how to deal with all of this during winter break.
Going to college is a huge transition, but coming home to your support system after doing your own thing on campus for a while can be hard to navigate. Your perspectives may have changed as you’re evolving into the person you want to become and developing your own identity. This can be hard to express to your peeps back home who might see you in a particular way.
According to Janie Egan, CPH ‘15, ‘17, program coordinator in the Wellness Resource Center, you’re an “emerging adult,” which is “marked by the feeling of being in between adolescence and adulthood.” This period typically occurs between the ages of 18 to 29, and comes with some major responsibilities like paying bills, living alone and, most importantly, facing some potentially difficult interactions with your family and friends.
So how do you interact with people at home after you’ve been away at college, and how do you do it in a way that affirms your identity and expresses who you are without getting into confrontations?
Nutshell spoke with experts at The Wellness Resource Center to provide you with tips for handling it all.
Understand that everyone is constantly growing and changing.
“The first thing to know is that we’re all on a personal journey,” said Brittany Robinson, CPH ‘18, program coordinator for the Wellness Resource Center. “You might feel like you’ve learned so much while you’re away at college and then you come home and everything feels the same. It might feel like a regression, but it’s not. It’s important to understand that everyone in your life—the people back home, the new friends you made at college—is on their own journey and it’s important to accept where other people are or meet them in the middle.”
Hearing “you’ve changed” or “you’re acting differently” shouldn’t be hurtful.
Know that comments about how you’ve changed may not be intended to hurt or have negative connotations. “They could be observations or windows into deeper, meaningful conversations,” Robinson said. Those words could be a way of expressing concern or seeking to understand, and could start a dialogue about your experiences and growth.
Practice mindfulness, rely on your outside support network and find ways to cope to help you adjust to being back home.
Stress, anxiety and apprehension may result from dealing with complex situations. “You may want to practice mindfulness,” Egan said. “By being mindful, it allows you to be in the present with yourself versus in the past or the future. It can help identify emotions and have the ability to cope more effectively with both short-term and long-term stressful situations.”
“You can count on other people in your support system—the friends you made at Temple, or within other social circles, or support system back home—to help you get through the stress or anxiety you might feel in engaging with family or friends,” Robinson added. That means lean on your group chats or any form of communication you have with your network.
Also, its OK to step away at any point to take care of yourself. Having a plan for self-care can alleviate tension you might feel. Self-care can be talking to a friend, taking a nice bubble bath, writing about your feelings, baking, making art, or doing something that makes you feel good.
Help people understand more about your identity and how you’re exploring.
Language plays a big part in how you message who you are and that your perspectives are changing. “When you’re on campus, are in student organizations or just hanging out in different social circles, you pick up terms and use certain words casually,” Robinson said. “But when you go back home and use these words and people are like ‘what’s that?’, it’s important to provide context to the terms you’re using.” Robinson suggested to supply people with quick definitions or utilize the Wellness Resource Center’s pamphlets and brochures that describes the language that you use.
It’s OK to not want to talk about some of the changes you’ve experienced.
As great as talking about your new friends or views or how your identity is evolving, know that sometimes others might not be in the mood to hear about them. Robinson advised that you should take social cues from your conversations and interactions and be prepared for people whose body language shows that they’re not ready to hear your story yet.
If you notice a conversation is heading in a direction that leads to rising tensions, try to diffuse the situation or steer the talk. “Conversations can get heated when we lose self-compassion or compassion for others or perspective-taking, so being mindful in the moment and keeping in mind others’ perspectives is a great tool for understanding,” Robinson said. “Having a clearer sense of mind, when emotions are calmer is the best way to establish disagreement. Also, it’s OK to communicate your boundaries clearly and insert yourself that way as well,” she added.
Remember that your identity is not contingent upon others’ acceptance.
Even though you may want support from your family and friends back home, remember that your identity and experiences are valid and your own. “This can hard to grasp when we are in familiar surroundings, but it’s important to practice self-compassion and positive self-talk to guide you through tricky situations and not falter in who you are, your perspectives and principles,” Egan remarked. “If people in your circle haven’t responded to you with kindness or treat you with kindness, don’t be hard on yourself,” Robinson added. “Disagreements that you have with others aren’t a reflection of your value or worth as a person.”