Weathering the Storm
As a homeschool mom it’s so rewarding when that first child graduates from High School. It’s a mix of emotions that span the entire year. It’s the end of a 12 year journey. It’s the celebration of 4 years of High School where you’ve worked and planned carefully to get your student to the next part of their life. We had a lovely high school graduation celebration with friends and family. My daughter had been accepted into her top choice college with their highest merit scholarship. We had done everything to prepare for the next transition…college. But nowhere had I read about how rocky this transition might be for my daughter. She had lived on her own in New York City 5 weeks the previous summer. We all felt very confident with her transition into college. But as Taylor shares below how, for many young adults that first semester at college is tough.
You have written your essays, sent your test scores to colleges, and received your acceptance letters. The invitations have been sent out and now you are finally walking down the aisle in cap and gown (literally or figuratively). High school is over! A whole new exciting world is about to open up, extending its welcoming arms towards you with the promise of adventure. What could possibly go wrong?
I must admit, this was exactly my mindset as I flew across country to study at my dream school. Of course I had some fears. As a small-town girl moving to Los Angeles, I was bound to have some fears. Would I get along with my roommates? Would I be capable of balancing my new school schedule? Was I doomed to keep a constant diet of ramen noodles? These were all normal questions to have and I prepared accordingly. I had college cookbooks, binders, dorm organization supplies, and even some new clothes. What I quickly figured out was that no amount of research could prepare me for the storms ahead.
When heading off to college, everyone is more than happy to give advice on everything from budgeting money to making friends. What no one talks about is the fact that you are about to have everything you know taken away from you, and this can leave you feeling lost. Living in a big city was nothing new to me. I had already lived in New York City on my own for over a month the summer before my senior year. I always had an incredibly independent and ambitious streak, itching to leave my hometown. Consequently, I must admit I was a little confused by the feelings I was experiencing my 3rd week into the semester. I was experiencing sadness and anxiety without clear cause. I felt overwhelmed by my courses, even if the homework wasn’t strenuous. The scariest part was I didn’t even know who I was anymore. My hair and outfits never seemed to look right. I became increasingly clumsier. And, all those cooking skills I had worked so hard on flew out the window, making the ramen diet a brooding reality. I felt like a complete mess. Throughout the day, I was battered with thoughts like “What am I doing here? Everyone else is doing so much better than I am. Maybe I made a mistake.”
For someone who has always had such clear ideas about their future, this self-doubt was more than a little terrifying. No one told me college would feel like this, so, clearly, something was wrong with me.
I called many people back home and everybody said, “You are doing fine. Stick with it.” Clearly, though, I was not “fine.”
Finally, I stayed after class to speak to a teacher, trying not to cry in front of him. I told him everything. He squinted at me for a while, finishing his coffee. Finally he asked, “Taylor, how old are you?”
“19.” I looked at the floor.
“Exactly,” he replied. “You have no idea what you are doing. You don’t even know what ‘19’ is about yet! You are far from everything you know. You are with new people in new classes in a new city. You don’t know anything, but you are figuring it out. Everyone is. What’s my point? Cut yourself some slack.”
I felt oddly better. He was right. I didn’t have to know everything. I was going to make mistakes and struggle. What an amazing thought! I was allowed to fail?! I was stunned.
I don’t want to give the impression that this conversation wiped away every storm cloud, but it gave me the courage to stay and not feel ashamed of my fear and confusion. Slowly but surely, I got myself together. The discouraging thoughts echoed less and less. I began to feel proud because I didn’t turn back. I weathered the storm, and made it successfully through the semester.
A couple months after I talked to my teacher, I encountered two other students who were feeling exactly how I was! Whether you are in the storm now, or about to take the plunge know that it is coming. It is one of the most incredible and gratifying experiences, but also one of the scariest. Don’t give up. You will be ok and if you weathered that first semester/year transition. And, I know that you will be used to reshape the world as only you can.
One thing I’ve learned as a homeschool parent is the importance of encouraging strong family and friend connections during those high school years. Your son or daughter will need them as they transition from High School into college. Those people in their lives are sources of advice, support, and encouragement. They are cheering your child when they have good days and bad.
I’m so thankful we built strong family bonds during our homeschooling journey. I think it helped during this time. I am ever so thankful for our extended family and friends who offered Taylor encouragement during this time and well. Mostly, I’m thankful for the words her teacher offered her that day. His encouragement was a huge turning point for her that semester.
Hi! I’m Taylor Nieman. I grew up in Central, IL where I had the opportunity to homeschool through High School. I graduated in May 2012 in a ceremony surrounded by friends and family who have and still offer me encouragement and support. The opportunity I was given homeschooling gave me time to focus on my passions-acting, singing and dancing. I’m currently attending my dream college, AMDA, where I’m working on my Acting BFA.
Hi! I’m Leah Nieman. I’m a wife, homeschool mom and Co-founder of CurrClick.com. My husband and I live with our 2 children in Central, Illinois. We’ve homeschooled since 2001. I’ve been using eCurriculum and other forms of online educational resources in our home since 2002. I juggle family life, homeschooling and work while trying to keep it all balanced with the amazing love and support of my family. It’s somewhat of a learning curve and I find it’s always a work in progress.
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