The harsh side of going home for break


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Ryder Noah From

When summer after my senior year of high school came to an end, I was dead ready to go to college. No more would I have to drive around my boring suburb with five fast food places in a row down one street, nor cling to the library as the sole place where I could escape my house (until 9 p.m. anyway). I thought I could leave that place in the dust, until Thanksgiving and winter break came around.

During icebreakers at the start of a new semester, I always specify “suburbs of Chicago” rather than the city itself, because I am not from Chicago. I hail from a cookie-cutter suburb lined with schools, playgrounds, fast food joints and grocery stores. The actual city is an hour’s drive away, an annoying shift since Lexington is right around the corner at UK.

When I arrived at my apartment, greeted by my parents and brother, reality felt distorted. It all seemed more cramped and darker than it did before coming to college. Right off the bat I wasn’t happy, but I had nowhere to go.

There’s always something going on in college — an event by the SAB, trivia at Cat’s Den or a movie at Worsham — but the only thing to do in the suburbs is drive. I missed my friends and getting to see them was everything, but when it was just me alone in my small room, it felt like life before college.

Family issues made it worse. Thankfully, I had a friend going through similar issues. It’s hard enough being sad, but it’s even worse when your family is mad at you for being sad. At college, there was no dog to walk or dishes to clean, but one trip back and all those chores flood back to me, complete with an empty fridge and pantry. Two conversations, one fight, one apology, and everything back to the way it was.

My hope was that it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought; my expectation was underlying tension that would be ignored; my reality was distress, deep-seeded issues and a dog that relies on me to walk her. Some students enjoy going back to see their family, friends and have their laundry done, but I don’t come from a tropical mansion. I come from the opposite of where I want to live.

I was given advice to move on and let it be, but it’s nearly impossible to be happy when all the triggers are right there waiting to push your buttons. Some say that if you can’t change what makes you unhappy, change your attitude about it. I say that changing your environment can do just as well, and I’ll just make sure to spend my summers here.

High hopes and realities of a college freshman is a bi-weekly column by Ryder Noah From.