By Lori Hanson
Is it that time in your house? Are you or one of your offspring headed off the college for the first time or returning for another year? It is a fun, stressful, exciting, scary time for most students and parents I know. For parents of college freshmen there is the fear of letting them go for the first time and wondering how they will do without you. If your college student has been home for the summer there is anticipation about what the 2nd, 3rd or final year will bring for them.
If you’re a student who got stressed out and overwhelmed last year, you may be excited, yet nervous about how you’ll handle things this year. If you are one of the more than 30% who struggled with anorexia or bulimia and got better over the summer there can be a lot of nerves about how you’ll do this year.
If you’re the party hearty student who had a blast and got too crazy last year, hopefully over the summer you’ve learned you have a choice and can invest time in your studies and pick different friends this year who won’t pull you down.
If you’re a freshman, you world is about to change. You’re on your own for the first time and out of the house! Crazy exciting and oh shit, scary too. This is part of the reason I have such a busy fall speaking calendar. I’m headed to major universities to help new students learn how to deal with stress proactively vs. getting depressed cutting, abusing substances and alcohol, developing an eating disorder after gaining the freshmen fifteen or doing other things you may regret later on. You’re moving out of your comfort zone, headed to the next chapter in your life and shifting your thoughts to what you want to do when you grow up vs. the high school scene.
As parents of a college student the stress may also include your finances. Whether you pay your child’s tuition or not, there are many things that must be purchased, replenished and the trek to get them to the dorm, moved in and settled.
Part of getting through this period is just letting it be okay that you have a huge pile of emotions you’re carrying around with you. Let it be okay that one minute you’re excited and the next you’re scared and sad. Make a plan for what has to be done before you leave and what you’ve got to do once you hit campus.
Even though it’s been a few years, okay decades since I went to college I still remember the way I felt. There was so much anticipation and excitement followed by immediate intimidation for all the new things I encountered once I got on campus. If I only knew then what I know now!
Before you let the rat race take over completely, take a few minutes to yourself and be thankful for the opportunity you have to go to college. There is so much you’ll learn about people, relationships and yourself.
And parents be thankful for the son or daughter you have who has decided to pursue college to help them succeed at their career. Be joyful for the journey they are on. Let go and let them experience, screw up and grow to become the young man or woman you’ve raised them to be. Because it’s going to be a great year!
If you or a college student you know is struggling with an eating disorder, join our online support community. It will help you through the tough times without having to leave school. www.FindingHopeCommunity.com.