Time in college is one of the greatest steps in a person’s life. We are furthering our education and, for the most part, are also learning what it is like to live on our own.
Many of us were brought on campus by our parents, moved in, said our goodbyes and promised to “visit soon” or “keep in touch.” While I do think it is important to keep family close, there is a reason why campus living is so significant: independence.
As college students, we are given the choice to leave home and live a life all our own. Some of us may not take it and for various reasons. Living at home after age 18 is financially smart, for one. You get free laundry, free food, sometimes free rent. You get to continue easy living for a while longer.
For those of us who are campus residents, it is a different story. Campus residents are pretty much living alone for the first time, minus the occasional roommate. However, what about this lifestyle is exactly independent? Some parents may send their children money, frequently visit, or receive frequent weekend visits, which by the way defeats the purpose of moving away for college in the first place, but I digress. Sure, occasionally that is okay. Homecoming weekend doubles as parent weekend. So why not spend extra time with your folks? But at some point, the student-parent umbilical cord must be cut. As official young adults, how much independence we use is completely up to us.
For starters, getting a job on or off campus is a good way to gain some liberation. Some of us had jobs in high school, so the concept of work is nothing new. However, for those who have never had a job, it will be a harder adjustment, but an even better experience. After all, making money without parental assistance is rewarding. There are no burdens or attachments because it belongs to no one but the person who worked for it.
Another way is to keep communication with parents impersonal, meaning phone calls, letters, and Skype only. Yes, they will be worried about you, because they can’t look after you as much. But, again, they don’t have to. In the eyes of the government and society, you are adults and it’s time we started acting and being treated like them.
It will be hard. Because in the end, family is all we are going to have. Friends come and go, but hopefully family will be the one solid foundation you have forever. But you will need your space to grow. Family will always be there as long as the love is unconditional and respect is earned both ways. Spread your wings, leave the nest, and any other clichés you can think of.
Cutting the cord doesn’t mean cutting yourself out of your family. It just means you’re ready to step into the “real world.” And you will have to do it on your own. They will tell you you’re not alone in it (and you’re not), but you should want to be. If you have everything handed to you in life, you’re just taking the easy way out. Don’t tell your parents goodbye, because goodbye is permanent. Say, “I’ll see you later, I promise,” and be on your way. And when the going gets tough, you can keep on going by yourself.