Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Coming home for the holidays

As the holiday season is upon us, going home to meet family and friends is finally a feasible reality. On my 14-hour-long flight, I’ve begun to reflect on my mixed emotions about returning home. Surprisingly, this reflection has surfaced due to a lack of Wi-Fi: I suppose by being disconnected, quite literally, from mindless scrolling, I have been forced to tune in to my emotions. Some may call it mindfulness. But I’ve not reached that kind of level of self-awareness, so I’ll resort to calling it boredom. It’s a watching-paint-dry kind of boredom, only instead of paint, I’m watching the clock as it counts down to landing time.

I am certainly pleased to have a couple of weeks to recuperate from the hectic nature of term 1. It sounds divine to come back to the familiarity of home, being greeted with the warmth of friends and getting my taste buds reacquainted with the lavish diversity of spices that make up Indonesian cuisine. For a few days, I can ignore my reading lists and upcoming essays, and simply enjoy being. I’m especially looking forward to meeting up with old friends who are also returning home from universities spread across the world. It will be a strange get-together indeed, as we’ve all grown exponentially since the last time we met each other.

Personal development at university comes crashing like a tsunami wave – we don’t realise anything has happened until the impact seems apparent: for better or for worse. Not only are these changes simple improvements, such as learning how to cook edible meals, university has also challenged fundamental aspects of my character. For one, the amount of rejections I have gotten from applications for society execs, departmental opportunities, and career-related openings has compelled me to re-evaluate the way I perceive failure. It has also made me question my relationship with external validation. This may very well sound melodramatic, but there is a slight worry that my friends and I are now too different to reconnect. But I may just be a bit of an overthinker.

 

This holiday season will be a month of difficult conversations, as I tread the fine line between being optimistic and straight-out lying

Going home means having a lot of free time. As someone who finds meaning and joy in the work they do, the thought of lying on the beach with a margarita in hand, doing absolutely nothing but relaxing is terrifying. The constant nagging thought that I should be using my time more effectively is becoming a serious issue. I cannot seem – or more accurately, I refuse – to find a work-life balance. Though I always end up burning out after a month or two, I’ve never learnt my lesson. As a result, I’ve brought several textbooks with me to attempt to catch up on my reading. A further complication is the fact that my parents place considerable value on family time and the dreaded R word. They certainly do not appreciate my attitude towards work. The holidays may be slightly torturous in this aspect: I fully understand that this is an ongoing problem and I need to learn how to relax but, to be perfectly candid, it feels like an addiction that’s out of my control.

Adding to my illogical list of worries is the fact that I’m not wholly enjoying my course. My parents are not the most understanding people in the world, so any mention of me not “having the time of my life” at university translates into a major problem.This holiday season will be a month of difficult conversations, as I tread the fine line between being optimistic and straight-out lying. At least I’ve got Michael Bublé crooning through the speakers as consolation. In his words, “mom and dad can’t wait for school to start again.”

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