Handling Your New Independence
You have a right to shape your own identity, but remember: these
rights come with responsibility. No matter how your sense of self
changes over the years, part of the personal growth is becoming
responsible for yourself and communicating clearly with the people
who are most important to you. You’re living on your own for the
first time in your life. The habits that you develop now will follow
you into your later adult years. Your mom isn’t going to make your
bed anymore. If you come from the kind of family where your parents
made you do homework after dinner, those days are over. You never
have to do homework again! Of course, you could fail out of college
your first semester if you don’t do your homework; slacking off
is an (unwise) option. In other words, success is up to you.
All of your discipline will have to come from within.
Ask yourself: what kind of person am I? The type who blows off writing
a paper to go to a couple of parties? The type who gossips about
friends behind their backs? Not only do you have a responsibility
to yourself, you have a responsibility to others and to the community
Whether you’re a town away or ten states apart, your parents are
going to see a lot less of you than they’re used to, and they’re
probably going to be surprised at how rapidly you’re changing. They
only know the you that grew up in your hometown under their roof.
Your parents might feel like they’re losing you a little; this is
a great time for you, but it will be a little hard on your folks.
Allow your parents to go through the feelings of loss
that come with having their child leave for school. Their sadness may
come out in weird ways. They may get mad or weepy, or they may call
you a know-it-all for arguing every point you learned in your Intro
to Sociology course. If you ever feel like your family issues are
getting to be a bit much, head to your school’s counseling or mental
health center for guidance.
What about your best high school buddy? Is he truly your best
friend because you have a deep emotional bond and lots in common?
Or are you so close because you live in the same town, share the
same experiences, and gossip about the same people? Remember, unless
your friends are going to the same college, they’re not going to
know the ins and outs of your daily life anymore. As a result, you
might not feel as close to them.
Will your old friends accept the fact that you want to
experiment with religion? If they aren’t in college themselves,
will they respect that you may be studying for hours at a time and unable
to call them back to chat on the phone? If you decide that you’re
done with being preppy and it’s time for a blue Mohawk, will they
still be your pals? If the answer is yes to all of these questions,
then you have true friends on your hands, and you should cherish
those friendships and keep in touch. But if your high school buddies
were merely “friends of convenience,” you’ll find out fast. If this
is the case, don’t be afraid to move on.