Well, it’s over. In 22 quick days my last, and final, Christmas break as a college undergraduate came to a close, with nothing more to show for it besides a few extra pounds and a slightly weakened mindset toward school I imagine will haunt me throughout most of the semester.
Like most from my past, this break followed a pretty familiar pattern, and produced its fair share of stress.
I’m originally from Manistee, a small town in northern Michigan that showed few signs of change or development in the four years since I’ve called it my home.
Like almost everything associated with my hometown, when I return, a few things always seem to remain true. Since the nearest movie theater is about a half hour drive south, and the closest mall or major shopping area is another hour, going home always leaves me feeling more like I’m back in high school and still curious about the type of towns that might exist outside of the quiet place I grew up.
To make matters worse, despite being away for almost four years, the daily routine I have at my house doesn’t appear to have changed all that much either.
In my mother’s eyes, the time I spend on break is both a chance to finally finish up all the countless chores around the house and pretend that the new, temporary roommate she has in her home is a middle schooler.
After a sleepless night of maneuvering myself across the twin sized bed in my old room, each morning on breaks starts with me locating the random list of jobs my mother has left out for me on the kitchen counter.
While these simple chores—which are referred to as “honey-do’s,” a strange labor system established by my mother when I was much younger—rarely have any relevance to each other, they have a sneaky way of almost always taking up my entire afternoon. Once each item on this list is checked off, and things like organizing the garage and getting Tupperware down from hard-to-reach shelves has been completed, my days often end with eating a homemade meal, returning to the horrors of my high school bedroom and waiting until morning to repeat this process.
Although there is nothing glamorous about the way I spend my holiday breaks, and while I could ramble on for hours about the countless things that cause me stress about going home, there is still something humbling I find about going back.
As I’m sure any college student can attest to, managing stress is one of the many lessons spending four years at a university accidently teaches you.
Whether it’s through the times you are forced to forego spending time with your friends to finish up an assignment that’s due, or drinking three pots of coffee to stay up all night and cram for an exam, until this point, the years we have spent at school can safely be looked at as some of the most scary, unrelenting and stressful points of our lives.
Although going home often can present an entirely new array of stressful scenarios, it’s that sort of stress that can be exactly what you need to clear your head, and help keep you sane before starting the next semester.
For me, going back to Manistee is a chance to forget about my life in East Lansing for a while and slowly allow myself to slip back into the life I used to have at home.
Although spending each day doing chores and eating roughly five homemade meals is much different compared to my typical routine at school, it’s the perfect way to forget about the countless things we are constantly being reminded that we have to do.
No matter where you are, or what you’re doing, there is always going to be stress in your life. Although, at times, the 22 days I spent in Manistee felt like an eternity, it allowed me the chance to sit back, relax and reflect on how much I’ve changed and how far I’ve come.
As I look to the start of my last semester here at school, I know with certainty that my life is about to take on a countless assortment of unknown changes and a substantial amount of new stress.
As old worries, like getting a high GPA, become new fears, and things like a fear of future employment and wondering how on earth I’m going to say goodbye to the people I’ve called my family here at school become real concerns, I think I will look to the stresses I remember from home as being one of the bright spots I’ve found in these four years that helped keep me together.
Although I am unsure where I will be in the future, the one thing I do know is I will miss the chances I had to go home, and feel like I was a kid all over again.
In the meantime, let’s just worry about getting rid of this extra holiday weight.