A how to guide about saying goodbye to your parents and embracing independence

Disclaimer: This guide is really only for those of you going through a similar level of emotional distress as I went through. This level can be determined by several factors:

  • distance away from your parents (I live in the Bay Area; a 5ish hour drive or 1 hour plane flight)
  • emotional closeness with your parents (I am obsessed with my parents)
  • reliance on your parents for support (financially, emotionally, or whether or not they tuck you in at night. All apply to me)

So, in about a month and three quarters you may be moving into your NEW ROOM! Yay! Whatever, that’s exciting, but this also means that move-in might be the last time you see your parents for a while (at most until parents’ weekend). Of course, this sparks, or rather, ignites an array of emotions. These will include anxiousness, mild paranoia, a intense feeling of being overwhelmed, and panic. Don’t worry, only a little bit of each of these are present at any one time. You will never feel like quitting (maybe, but not for more than 30 seconds).

For example, the first night I spent in the dorms, I nearly drowned in my own tears. My parents had not even left UCLA yet, but the mania had set in. I imagined the workloads of my classes and knowing that my dad would not be in the next room to answer my question about wormholes. I imagined myself for the next ten weeks paralyzed with fear in my bed every night. Of course, this did not continue. The next night was much better; I cut my sweat output in half. My parents had left by then, but, miraculously, I was calmer.

The key to doing this is to take this simple two-pronged approach:

  1. Prong One – Maintain contact with your parents
    • Text them frequently
    • Call them even more frequently (I called my dad every day of the quarter, if only for a second or to leave a message of me mumbling as I ate my bagel)
    • Skype, if you’re into that. (Personally, I am more of a phone call fan. The whole seeing-a-pixelated-face thing doesn’t do it for me)
    • Make them send you packages with cookies and cute clothes
    • Email them your most interesting readings
    • Take their advice
  2. Prong Two – Relish your independence
    • Attend all events (Bruin Bash, apartment parties, beginning of the year sale, etc.)
    • Eat healthfully in the dining hall (Seriously, passing up pizza for the first five weeks made me feel like an adult/Iron Man)
    • Explore the campus alone
    • Decorate your room exactly how you want
    • Be your own freaking best friend

Obviously there is a lot more you can do to feel independent and happy about it. And there are probably other ways to keep in touch with Mom and Dad (or just Dad or Mom and Mommy or Uncle Ben or Veronica). Basically, just go balls-to-the-wall crazy for college while keeping yourself anchored at your parents’ feet. It’s mega hard but totally doable. I did, and I was a complete disaster for the first three days.

Good luck!