February 4, 2022 | OPINION | By Katey Grealish | Illustration by Kira Schulist

I was excited to return home for winter break. With the last day of Block Four so close to Christmas, I got to jump right into the festivities with my family the moment I was home. After that, I had a month to do whatever I wanted before coming back to campus for Block Five. My first week home I did absolutely nothing important. I read books, watched TV, and played on my childhood Nintendo DS. It was great. 

The second week of break rolled around, and I did nothing again, but it didn’t feel so great this time. I felt lazy, and not in a restful, restorative way. With nothing to do, I started to realize just how much I missed my friends from school. I found myself at a loss for how to fill my days with interesting and meaningful activities.

I started to feel like I was stuck, just waiting to go back to school. I felt sad, and I couldn’t really place my finger on why. I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything important. Not having anything to do or any friends to see allowed me to dwell and spiral back to unhealthy patterns of thinking. What did it say about me? Was I too reliant on being at school for happiness? What if we wouldn’t be allowed back because of COVID-19, would I be stuck at home? If I missed my friends so much, why didn’t I just talk to them? Would that make me a nuisance? 

I feared I depended on college to provide stimulation; it gave me all these ways to distract myself. I think the college environment provides a sort of distraction from darker thought patterns and behavior, but I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. These “distractions” are fulfilling parts of my life: interesting schoolwork, meaningful activities, loving friends. For someone like me, who tends to overthink when given the chance, simply not having the spare time to do so helps me stay a happy and level-headed person. This does mean, however, that my mind is at a loss when that stimulation is taken away. What to do when this happens is something I’m still learning to navigate.

In a way then, I’m grateful for these Winter Break blues. They remind me of how much I have in my life to appreciate, even if this life is split between school and home. It reminds me how much I love my friends, how much I love learning, and how much I’m excited about my growing independence. I’m also aware that as low as I felt at home, I still have a lot to appreciate. The fact that I have a stable, loving place to go back to is something to appreciate in and of itself – though it doesn’t mean I had to love every second of being there.

I suppose I want to put my story out there in case anyone else felt similarly over this break. I think it’s a common experience to feel a bit of malaise at home if college is a new, positive environment. If anything, I think it shows how much somebody’s grown, and it shows me how exciting it is to be a young adult.

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