Survival Strategies for the Wayward Student

With the holiday season fast approaching, there can be a lot of reasons to stress out. Last minute gift shopping, finalizing travel plans, or studying for upcoming finals are definitely factors; but for me, the biggest stressor often comes from being around my family.

That’s not to say that I don’t love my family, because I do. Being able to see them during the holidays is a huge reason that I look forward to breaks. However, the questions that come with family gatherings (“Are you dating anybody?” or “What will you do after graduation?” are big ones) and the inevitable family drama around the dinner table are not necessarily things I look forward to.

If you’re from Utah and have a large extended family, downtime should be a key item in your holiday arsenal. By all means, put yourself down for those back-to-back dinners, group family nights, and Christmas parties, but don’t forget to give yourself a little breathing room, even if it’s just a half-hour to scroll through social media between events. Having time to organize your thoughts and decompress is a good way to avoid being overwhelmed.

Another thing to remember is that people mean well. My parents like to remind me that it’s important to “assume positive intent,” — your relatives ask questions because they want to get to know you a little better and because they want to know that your life is going well. If they seem a little pushy or answering the same questions over and over starts to get on your nerves, just remember that your family is just trying to show you that they care about what’s happening on your end.

On that note, sometimes — particularly in the face of unexpected holiday drama — the “grin and bear it” philosophy just won’t cut it. If you’re stuck in a room listening to your divorced grandparents gripe at each other, or Aunt Sally won’t stop judging Aunt Jemima’s sweet potatoes, think of a way to remind people of why you’re there: to celebrate a holiday and enjoy each other’s company.

Whatever your plans for the holidays are, I hope you are able to relax and enjoy the time away from the daily grind. Good luck!

Story by
Megan Fairbanks