It’s a few weeks into the semester; is the college experience thus far what you thought it would be? If not, that’s okay, reality is rarely exactly like we anticipated. You may be busier, or lonelier, or coping better, or not as well, or relieved, or more disorganized, or happier, or sleepier than you expected. But all of these are normal, so please allow yourself to be human (warts and all) while you get into the swing of this new world. Because it really is a unique microcosm. You are expected to continue to be what you have been all your life thus far, a student. But you are also expected to now do so as an adult, with adult-like responsibility. And at the end of these four (+) years, you are supposed to have figured out your life’s work, LOL. But that’s a topic for another time. You will actually have some things figured out by the time you finish, primarily just knowing yourself better. So, day at a time in managing this crazy college thing. Be patient with yourself as you find what works for in getting out of bed, showing up, doing the academic work, and interacting with new people. New experiences, new successes, some new failures. And the world keeps turning ‘round….
Without a doubt, one of the hardest things about being a pet owner (though the pets really own us) is the death of that pet. For an animal lover, that pet was a member of the family, and for some, even closer than the human members. When those eyes that looked at us with unconditional love are no longer present, there is a void keenly noticed and felt. Our rooms are emptier, literally and emotionally, when our animal is not there to greet us. We expect to see them in their usual sleeping spot, or we automatically start to feed them and catch ourselves walking toward the food bowl before we remember.
Yes, whether they were part of our lives briefly or for many years, it is extremely hard when they are gone. And if it is possible for the loss to be even more difficult, it is made so if the decision had to be made to have the pet “put down” to relieve the suffering of illness. This writer has been there, and there are times I still look for that face at the patio door. So I know it is important to allow ourselves to be sad sometimes, to miss their presence, their love, their craziness. But I think we are sustained by two things. One, of course, are the memories, because in spite of the current grief, aren’t you glad they were in your life? Secondly, we are better people for having shared their time and space, more patient, more calm, more compassionate.
Remember you are not alone in your sadness; other pet lovers understand. For persons who do not understand or who make unfeeling comments or who never were close to a pet themselves, let’s find it in our hearts to pity them. They do not know what they have missed.
So let yourself embrace your grief and feel it, embrace the memories, and embrace the joy your pet brought. It was worth it all.
Well, here you are. You made it to college, moved in, and sort of got settled. By now you know where your classes are and have been shocked by the requirements on each syllabus. At some point, maybe next week, maybe next semester, you might find yourself feeling homesick. You will know this by the knot in your stomach when something reminds you of home, and by wishing for things you never thought you would. Of course, there are some things you do not miss, like a curfew, parental rules, sharing a bathroom with a younger sibling, etc. But what you might miss is being in familiar surroundings, the regularity of time with friends or family, and just knowing what each day will bring. Rest assured that what you are experiencing is normal and that most people have similar feelings, even those that do not seem to be homesick or would not admit it. The sadness and anxiety that define homesickness will fade with time. Spend time with people who are good for you, place a comforting reminder from home where you can see it, try new activities, and BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. Let time do its work. You can do this. Welcome to college.
With all the changes and decisions that come with graduating, one of the most unsettling can be the inevitable transitions in friendships. Realistically, some of the people who have been really important in your life will fade away with time and distance. With others you may have sporadic contact. With a very few, you may keep in touch regularly. Even as you realize you will be moving on soon but not yet, it is normal to have some sense of disconnection as you sit with a crowd of your friends and remember it won’t be this way much longer. You may even feel yourself pulling away now. That’s human, and you are preparing yourself emotionally. And if you think this sounds sad, remember it is the normal, human way of things. Maybe this is why we create memories.