As you briskly saunter through Center City, prudently dodging through the vibrant crowds, past the hodgepodge of sights, smells and sounds, you feel a jittery sensation cascading through your gleaming physique. Something in you erupts and no, it’s not just that post-Halal burn. The bustling city around you places a content smile across your face, and you feel as tall as William Penn perched on top of City Hall. Look at yourself. You’re a grown-up now, ready to take on Drexel University, with the sixth largest city in the U.S. as your playground. Nobody can tell you not to skip that bio homework, to put down that pizza you’re about to have for breakfast, to clean that black abyss you call your bedroom, or to stop roaming the city at 3 a.m. — and you totally, definitely, seriously don’t have to keep you parents in the loop about anything — except you totally, definitely, seriously should.
While college is undoubtedly a time to exhibit your newfound independence, you cannot forget about your parents along the way. These people kept you fed, warm and healthy, while offering you unconditional love and support as you’ve grown — even throughout those awkward teenage years. You may be having the time of your life as you study, eat, party, laugh and cry your way through the college journey, but your parents want to hear about those experiences too (and not just through distasteful stalking on your social media).
And many times, our parents are the ones making it financially possible for us to be having these opportunities, so they undeniably deserve an occasional phone call or text to let them know that you are alive and thankful for the thousands of doors they have kindly opened for you.
How you will be able to thank them will vary, but just remember that even the simplest gestures will be sure to ignite a spark of happiness in them. Send them witty texts to remind them how funny you are, plan a weekly Sunday call to catch up, mail them small gifts of your favorite Reading Terminal Market finds, or even hop on the train for a surprise visit if you can.
It’s important to stay connected with your parents and other loved ones in your life, no matter how independent you may feel and no matter how many miles you may be from them. Staying in touch as you travel this winding road will not hinder this experience. Even the most independent people should have a support system.
When you’ve failed your first calculus test, when the freshman 15 becomes too real, when you think your roommate is plotting to kill you or when you’re having a breakdown for absolutely no reason at all — they’ll be there to remind you you’re going to be okay, and if you’re lucky, to send you occasional pictures of your beloved childhood pets to help you through those crazy weeks.
As you adapt to college and are bombarded with change, you may even begin to miss that old reliance on them. As you viciously battle the quarter system, stomachaches from the Hans, co-op interviews and whatever else Drexel throws at you, you may find yourself wanting to go back to the days of “Blue’s Clues” and “Arthur,” where you had to eat all your green beans to get dismissed from the dinner table and be in bed by 8 p.m. College has a strange tendency of forcing you into unexpected reminiscence and uncanny nostalgia.
Your education is inexplicably a chance for self-exploration and for uncovering the independence that has been hiding inside of you, as you habitually followed the rules and expectations your parents laid out for you your whole life. It’s a time to break free from this lackluster governance to become a sovereign being ready to conquer the world post-graduation. It’s an overwhelming, wonderful feeling to become more independent; just don’t forget about the people in your past who have made it possible for you to even have this opportunity. You don’t need to start completely over in college.
Sure, you will transform as you go through college. Your resume will grow, your jeans may not fit the same and you might change your major 34 times. You’ll make new friends and new memories, and you’ll laugh at your old hairstyles. You won’t recognize your old sleep habits, and you’ll learn to appreciate things you used to take for granted.
But at the end of the day, as you finally reach your destination after endless stop signs and speed bumps, your parents will love you — and they’ll love you even more for making an effort to strengthen your relationship as you dealt with all these changes.
Don’t be afraid to let them know you’ll always be their little boy or girl.