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Why the Holidays Aren’t the Happiest Time of Year for Everyone

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GA Tech chapter.

My favorite time of year is the holiday season– starting with Halloween and ending on New Years, with Thanksgiving and Christmas officially making it the most festive four months of the year. I can always count on this time being filled with flashy decorations, comfort food and quality time spent with my family at home.

But not everyone at Georgia Tech can agree with my sentiments surrounding the holidays. So many college students dread Thanksgiving and Winter Break because they know that it means having to stay in a hostile environment for weeks at a time. Many college students see campus, dorms and apartments as a safe haven away from their toxic homelives.

College is a time and place where people can be whoever they want to be. This is a vital period in which many young adults explore themselves and experience new people, ideas and places. College impacts you in such profound ways that you are bound to be changed from who you were before attending. This sometimes can cause tension when going back home to an already uncomfortable environment.

There is no one definition of a toxic household because they can take on many different forms and expressions but lots of college students feel that they have to hide their true selves away from their parents because they won’t accept who they are, whether it’s their political beliefs, sexuality, appearance or any other issues that could be considered sensitive.

In other instances, you may lack the freedoms that come with college when you go home and that is very hard to deal with. However, you must know that if you are experiencing these types of suffocating environments during the holidays you are not alone.

There are countless articles all over the web giving out advice on how to deal with your family for the holidays but many of them seem to gloss over how intense and how uncontrollable family issues can be. These types of articles assume that people have a choice when going home for the holidays which is not always the case for a financially dependent college student. These articles emphasize boundaries and communication but achieving those things isn’t as easy as it seems. Every household has its own unique dynamic and problems which makes blanket statements hard to apply.

So what is there to do about going back home during the holidays? “A Holiday Dilema: When going home for Thanksgiving means entering a world of pain” is an article that uses real life college students’ stories and fears about going home during the holidays to a toxic environment. One student advises to have a plan to exit the situation and another says to “imagine themselves as anthropologists studying a different culture.” My biggest advice would be finding these kinds of articles or forums that connect you to other students who are going through similar situations. It can be a place to get advice from people who have experience and it can also be therapeutic to know there are others that relate to you.

It’s okay not to enjoy the holiday season and there are always people to reach out to. You are never alone. When the holiday season arrives and you need help with your mental health, the National Alliance on Mental Illness is a great resource.

Hi I'm a second year at Tech and I love sharing my writing with other people :)