The adjustment to college life can be for some people a little rocky. For me, it was a roller coaster ride. Between intense classes, dealing with a roommate, and living hours from home for the first time, I was, in a word, overwhelmed. My coping strategy was a daily phone call to my family, where they did their best to still be my support system despite the distance. They heard my fears and my anguish with loving support and greeted my good news with heartfelt happiness. They were ready with advice, a sympathetic ear, or words of stern motivation; whatever the situation called for, they knew what to say to calm my spirit.
But as the transition grew easier, and the “Son of Beast” turned into the “Beastie”, so too did the phone calls grow less frequent. I was finally not so reliant on my scaffolding; I had reached a point where I could stand on my own and provide myself with the required pep talk. I became who I was meant to be, and now I am happy with how far and what I have become. Behold the power of college!
Now my parents are the ones in the throes of a rocky transition. The last of their four children have left for college, and now for the first time in over twenty-two years of marriage, Mom and Dad are on their own. For twenty-one years, my parents have watched my siblings and me grow into complete human beings. Like skilled and attentive shipwrights, they carefully and lovingly molded the ships of our characters, providing them with the perfect combination of support and independence until they were at last ready to set us loose upon the sea and explore the world without them. They have completed the task of building us; now all that remains is to serve as a source of repair, shelter, and encouragement, but only when needed. They are done watching us grow as individuals; we have become who we were meant to be.
Now it is time for them to grow and develop as individuals. We have known our parents only as the soft but firm support system that guided us to our current course and set us loose in the tide. My siblings and I have only ever known our parents as Mom and Dad, but now they get a chance to become John and Lucy without the four of us as an extension of themselves. Like us, they are now on their own and ready to pursue their own course separate from softball games, academic competitions, and high school graduations. My parents have watched the four of us grow; now we get to do the same for our parents.
So at the beginning of the new school year, my parents were the ones making the daily phone call, but for them, it was to deal with the overwhelmingly empty nest. They called to talk about work, to fill the void of newfound loneliness, and to hear how our worlds were moving on without their presence. But as the transition has grown easier, the calls have become less frequent. I continue to look forward to the time when they, too, will realize that they are who they were meant to be and find that they no longer need us to be their scaffolding. Behold the power of college!
Angie Cook is a sophomore from Sidney, Ohio, majoring in History and English.