Whoever came up with the word, “Finals” was a very misleading character. For months and months a student looks forward to finals, but life exists after finals. Granted there is an intense feeling of relief similar to finding a rest stop after finishing a 64oz Big Buddy slushy, but I viewed finals as the end, when in reality it was only the beginning of a new chapter.
Sadly too much time is often given in preparation for finals forgetting that there is life after finals. It is sort of like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, all of the suspense is gone after the ring is destroyed, but Tolkien still writes about the Shire, because that is important to those who live there. There is life after mount Final, and I would like to describe some of the things I wish I had known to prepare myself for the real world of Christmas break and beyond.
For months and months, I existed for one sole purpose, study. Now that purpose is gone. My affirmation and phony ideas of self-worth because I had memorized the periodic tables and could name the multiple parts of the Larynx no longer mattered, in fact those facts where considered boring in the real world. Along with my loss of identity came a sense of insecurity, I didn’t know where I fit anymore as this half child, half adult amphibian type creation.
- I wish I had known that I was not in control of my schedule
At college, I was in charge. I knew when I would eat, sleep, and recreate. I ruled my time as sole heir of everything that was allowed into my life. This monarchy met reality once Christmas break started. Families and employers had been planning and dreaming about what would happen when I got home. Save yourself a ton of strife and misunderstanding by calling them before you get home and asking if they have any plans. This is especially important with mothers as they have dreams to make everything special.
- I wish I had known that independence/respect was earned
While I was at college, I was treated as an adult. I needed to realize that not only was I entering the land of my childhood, but success in college did not qualify me for respect in life. A good rule of thumb would be to remember that I should never talk to my parents in a tone or way I would not address my professor. If I deserved an F for not turning in an assignment or for sloppy work, I deserve an F at home for showing up late or leaving my clothes in the walkway.
- I wish I had known that I had major opportunities to invest in real relationships
When home over break, most people get to spend time with the people who invested the most in them, and made them who they are. These are the real friendships that should get the most attention. Take mom or dad out for coffee, participate in a younger sibling’s project, sit and talk with the grandparents. If possible contact a high school teacher or spiritual leader, chances are they would love to hear about your life but don’t want to intrude. The cute cat photos on Facebook can wait while you invest in 3D relationships.
- I wish I had known that I needed to get involved
People wanted to know more about my experiences, but they also wanted to share theirs with me. I assumed that I knew what happened in their life because nothing ever changed at home. One of the best ways to get involved is to ask good questions about your family and friends at home. Even though you are only home for a month get involved. Get involved in your family. Play games, be adventurous, enjoy making new traditions. Get involved in your church through starting conversations, or joining the choir or helping in youth activities. One of the greatest reasons college students are stereotyped as selfish lazy slobs is because they view break as a well-earned rest to be spent on themselves.
- I wish I had known that I could still read a book over break
After hundreds of hours studying, I began to realize that there are many topics that I am truly interested in. Don’t let your mind go to waste during break. Grab a novel or read up on a topic you enjoy, look ahead to next semester and finish off a reading report to give an extra cushion in case of an Ebola outbreak on campus.
If you were to leave a tomato out on the counter for the entirety of Christmas break without moving, that would be similar to what happens to your body after stuffing yourself with Christmas goodies and a sedentary lifestyle for a month. Find an open gym, go play hockey, go sledding, enlist in a free gym membership, do pushups or jumping jacks for every helping of fudge. Do something that takes more energy than watching It’s a Wonderful Life.
- I wish I had known that I needed a goal
You have been offered a free simulation of what life after graduation will look like. As in life during break, you have more education, and the ability to make your own goals to accomplish whatever you set your mind to. As a general rule how you spend your Christmas vacation will be how you spend your life.
Don’t waste your break.
Help the rest of us out by listing ideas and thoughts you wish you had known before break.