Don’t feel guilty for not visiting family during the holidays

Illustration of a couple sitting nervously at a family Thanksgiving dinner.
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Yet another month has come and gone, meaning that the holiday season is officially upon us. What’s not to be excited about? From movie series to delicious homemade meals that come with it, what’s not to love about holidays like Christmas? However, along with all the joy often comes a sense of dread from forced conversations and awkward situations. Speaking of films, there’s always been a sort of glorification surrounding such holidays. The media is constantly portraying a warm-colored tint of family members during a candlelight dinner. However, this isn’t the case in a real-life setting. The Clog has explained the ways of standing up for yourself during family gatherings, but what if that’s not enough? Below is a list of reasons why you should prioritize yourself and avoid feelings of guilt this year when deciding not to visit your family.

Listening to your instincts

As bizarre as the phrase sounds, listening to your gut is the optimal way to do what’s best for you. As stated previously, the dread that you may feel the moment you realize that Thanksgiving, for example, is only a few weeks away is a potential sign for reflection on your behalf. Ask yourself questions that will enable you to decide what happens next: Will it affect your health? Is the drive (or flight) worth the stay? If you’re going, is it just to please others? This last question is a one we all face as college students being away from home for most of the year. There is tremendous guilt and pressure surrounding the very question of “should I stay or should I go?” Unfortunately, you are the only one that can answer such a question. So, what will it be?

Your mental and physical health will thank you

This next one goes hand in hand with the previous sentiment of listening to your instincts. Although visiting family can serve as motivation to finish the fall semester off strong for some, it’s not like this for others. On the contrary, it can be an additional layer of stress and intimidation — especially when seeing family members that you haven’t seen in awhile. I know I’ll be anxious for this reason when the time comes. Recognizing your own importance is crucial in maintaining a healthy mindset — not to mention the ongoing global pandemic that has the chance of affecting both your mental and physical health. Taking the precautions needed in order for you to remain stable is important to prioritize.

Using extra time for de-stressing

Blatantly put, college is stressful. From creeping final exams to the everyday problems that life hands us during the most trying of times, college throws a lot at you. Additionally, I’m sure that you’re also aware that family events can be just as stressful, but in a different way. Ranging from screaming toddlers to barking dogs and disagreements between relatives, it’s no wonder that some may feel apprehension of visiting during the holidays. Creating boundaries such as not attending a family dinner or celebration is a way for you to prioritize yourself. Take it as a gift to yourself this holiday season to use the empty space in your dorm or apartment for good use. Once your roommates have left, the space is ultimately yours to claim. Spending time alone doesn’t have to be a lonely activity, but a positive one. 

Let’s normalize it

We are brought up in a society that prioritizes family gatherings during the holidays. There are magazines, TV commercials and other forms of media that replicate this exact sentiment. However, what if we normalize the exact opposite — skipping out on festivities and yearly routines for the purpose of prioritizing ourselves rather than the guilt we feel. Be the first in your friends to stay home, and perhaps new traditions will spark. 

So, whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas or another holiday, know that guilt doesn’t have to be present during the upcoming seasons. Giving yourself the space you need during the holiday season has many benefits, as mentioned above. After all, we deserve a break.

Contact Anyssa Torres at [email protected].