By James Jackson
Freshman year has come and gone, the parties, the excessive studying, and the socializing are all over. Now comes summer vacation! Your friends from high school are slowly trickling back into town and all you can think about is hanging out and taking a break from the books.
The first day you get back is like a spectacle, your parents want to do anything and everything for you because they’re just glad to have you home. And from the time you get back, until whatever time you decide you want to go to sleep (remember you can pretty much do anything the first day), you’re treated like absolute royalty.
Then, overnight, something changes.
Cars need to be washed, grass cut, rooms cleaned; it’s like you never left! It just got real, and how quickly it hits you, it’s like a slap in the face.
Parents get joy out of knowing its their house (which they make very clear at every opportunity), their rules, and if you’re like me and expect to come home and lay around the house all day, think again.
So if this is your first time coming home to your increasingly needy parents during the summer break, here are some rules to help keep you halfway sane:
Hang out with friends as much as possible.
Obviously, unless you’re extremely anti-social, you’ll want to hang out with friends. Being a college student, it’s natural for us to go out with close friends, acquaintances, or people we just met an hour ago. Its something we have to do.
Do something constructive with those mindless four-hour stints on Facebook and organize a meet-up with some people you haven’t seen since high school.
Pick your battles; better yet, don’t argue at all.
Now you have rules. Not the lackadaisical RA rules, but the ones parents love to enforce, like curfew. And chores; one of the few things you will never be able to get away from, no matter how hard you try.
I remember the worst fight I ever had with my parents was during a summer I was back from college when they said mow the lawn (on a Saturday morning!), I didn’t feel like it, and it turned out to be a whole thing that took at least a week to straighten out. Looking back, totally not worth it so don’t argue over the little things, if they want you to do something, just do it, the whole “rebellious” thing is for high school.
Realize they think you are the same person you were when you left.
You’re getting to be more self sufficient, and that newfound independence tends to drive parents crazy, whether they like to admit it or not. Try and negotiate with them, more likely than not, they’ll listen to what you have to say and will be willing to bend the rules once they realize that they’re dealing with a different person than the one that left them five months ago.
Get a job.
Staying out of the house is a sure fire way avoid conflict, but take it a step further, and do something meaningful with time you spend away. Get a job you halfway enjoy. Not one that makes you miserable, and sucks the life out of you (been there), just one that keeps a little money in your pocket, and doesn’t take up all your time, because after all, it is summer break.
Better yet? Volunteer!
They say you know you’ve found your passion when you’re willing to do it for free. Volunteering is a great way to find out exactly what that passion is. Doing things and being in environments that are somewhat foreign to you that you still love to do, allows you to learn so much, and frankly, you’ll meet some awesome people.
I saved this one for last because this one is what proved to be the most valuable for me after my freshman year at the same time, showed my parents that I was serious about something, in turn, caused them to get off my back about every little thing. Every response was, “I’ll do it later, I’m reading!” And lets face it, what parent doesn’t want to hear that? Now, every summer, I start a new project that involves some level of reading, on something that I know I’ll enjoy.
Like it or not, you’ve begun your journey to adulthood, and although it might be hard for your parents to accept that, give them some time, they’ll come around. Show them that you’ve become the adult that you feel you are, (whether you are or not), sit back, and watch things fall into place.
James Jackson is a finance student at Winston-Salem State University. James is also a tech assistant at a law firm and writer of anything that sparks his curiosity. You can follow this increasingly curious mind on Twitter or shoot him an email at jamesjacksn[at]gmail.com.