Even though you've enjoyed the time you've spent away at school, you may be looking forward to heading home for the first time. It may be for a long weekend, for Thanksgiving, or even for Winter Break. Regardless of when you go, you'll most likely encounter some unexpected challenges.
You go out when you want, eat what you want, wear what you want, do what you want. And you love every second of it. While you may have felt pretty independent before you left for school, you've undoubtedly become more so since starting classes. Keep that in mind when you head home for the first time. You may walk in the door as a totally different person than who you were when you last walked out. While it's important to not feel like you have to hide your newly found independence and confidence, it's also important to remember that it's new for your parents (and siblings and friends) to see.
Your Parents Have Changed
Your parents raised you for your entire life, and then, one day, you were gone. Understandably, they had to adjust to that absence. You may now come home acting more independently, talking about things they've never heard you talk about, and holding a schedule that conflicts with their house rules. Some things are inevitably going to need to be worked out when you return home. (Curfew, for example!)
Additionally, your parents may have really missed you, no matter how good you tried to be about keeping in touch with them. They may want to sit down and talk to you after dinner; you may want to head out to catch up with your high school friends. Just like you want them to be understanding about your needs, try to be understanding of their needs, too. They've changed, just like you have, and it's going to take a little work to make sure everything fits together again.
Your Siblings Have Changed
Since you left for school, your younger siblings may have had to readjust. You may have been the bossy, protective older sibling, and now someone else stepped into your role. Make sure you think about interacting with your siblings in a positive, patient way.
Your Friends Have Changed
Your core group of high school friends is planning on getting together as soon as you all get back into town. When you arrive, though, everyone seems so different! Be realistic about the situation: think about how much you've changed since starting college. Isn't it normal to expect your high school friends to change, too? And, of course, not everyone will change in the same ways that you do. Your quiet, shy friend may come back having joined a very active sorority. Your loud, outgoing friend may have come back much more serious about his academic career. Remember, though, that you can all continue to be your crazy, silly selves amidst the changes that have happened.
Your Relationships Have Changed
No matter whom you're interacting with -- parents, siblings, friends -- try to be comfortable with the unexpected shifts that may be happening. It's totally normal -- and even healthy -- for things to change the longer you're in school. If nothing else, try looking back at the changes that happened when you went from junior high to high school. Wasn't it a world of difference? So why should this transition be any different? Just like all of life's changes, the shift from high school to college can be what you make of it. Enjoy it for what it is and be patient with everyone -- including yourself -- as people adjust to your new life.