Wenzdae Wendling

Don’t feel guilty fleeing the nest

August 29, 2022

My first year at UVM was full of tumultuous emotions.

I felt so much excitement at the thought of living independently, yet so much sorrow at the thought of abandoning my parents back home.

These conflicting feelings led me to feel plagued by guilt throughout my first year at UVM. 

As an only child, my parents were left alone after sending me off to college. My home base is in North Carolina, and going to school a 13-hour drive away makes it hard to pop home for the weekend.

Any moment I felt myself starting to get comfortable in my new environment was overshadowed by a voice in the back of my mind telling me I had left my parents behind.

In reality, my parents wanted nothing more than for me to take full advantage of my time at school. 

My Instagram direct messages are always filled with posts and stories from my mom, who sends information from UVM accounts about upcoming events, encouraging me to attend them.

As my biggest cheerleaders, the last thing my parents want is for me to feel guilty. My parents never got to live in dorms during college, as they both lived with my mother’s parents for all four years of their college experiences.

Since my parents did not have the traditional college experience, their dream has been for me to fully immerse myself in it.

Ever since I was little, I shared this dream. Movies and TV shows only furthered my idolization of the authentic college experience.

As my first year progressed, I came to understand that the guilt I felt for leaving my parents behind was completely unproductive.

I would never fully engage with the college experience if I was living with such an unhealthy mindset.

The guilt that I was holding onto for my parents was really just holding me back.

I learned distance is no barrier to the close relationship I cherish with my family. They are always just a FaceTime call away.

With only four years in a traditional university undergraduate experience, I realized that every moment I spend at school should be treasured to the fullest.

My parents were right to encourage my involvement in clubs and school activities. 

Students in their senior year who were involved in clubs and activities during their college experience had statistically significant higher levels of development than they did in their first year before joining clubs, according to a study from the College of William and Mary.

Leaving my guilt behind has allowed me to engage in so many wonderful opportunities that UVM has to offer. 

In my time at UVM, I have loved participating in the Vermont Cynic and the Student Alumni Association. 

Being a part of these clubs has not only allowed me to feel more comfortable at school, but it has also led to me sharing joyous parts of my college experience with my family, such as the articles I have written for the Cynic.

Joining these organizations has strengthened my relationships both on campus and at home, allowing both me and my parents to feel happier.

Shedding my guilt about fleeing the nest as an only child has allowed me to finally spread my wings and live out experiences that my parents always wished for me to have during my college experience.

The best thing any child can do to bring joy to their parents is to lead with kindness, hold dear the lessons learned in their youth and to live life to the fullest each and every day.


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