Halloween is officially over. Costumes have been put away, Halloween candy has either been eaten or thrown away and now it’s time to focus on the next couple of months AKA “the holidays.”
When you were in high school it was pretty much a given that you would spend the holidays with your family. Whether your parents were together or apart, there was some kind of “plan” already worked out for you. All you needed to do was just show up.
In college, it was expected that you would go home during the holidays or, if you were like me and went to college 3,000 miles away from home, found a friend who was kind enough to take you home for Thanksgiving.
So what about now? You’re twenty-something, working full-time and living in a city maybe 500, 1,000 or maybe 3,000 miles away from home. Your job is demanding and exhausting and you work late in the evening most nights and unfortunately you only get 2 weeks vacation a year.
You desperately need a vacation to decompress and relax but year after year you find yourself using all of your vacation time going home to see your family for the holidays.
What do you do if this year you want to do something different? What if you didn’t want to go home for the holidays?
For some of you, going home for the holidays every year is a wonderful experience and you can’t imagine it any other way. If this is you, then feel free to scroll through some of my other blogs.
For those of you still reading, my guess is that you love your family but just want, no need, to take a vacation! You can’t imagine waiting in line after line at the airport spending an entire day trying to get home in the freezing cold. You need a change of pace this year but have no idea how to even approach the subject of skipping home for the holidays.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I believe your 20s are all about creating the kind of life that you want to live. Not the life that was given to you when you were a teenager and not the life you thought you should have when you were in college.
Many twenty-somethings feel a tremendous amount of guilt even entertaining the thought of not going home during the holiday season. Some of you have been going home for every holiday since freshman year of college and assume that you have no other choice but to go home.
I’m here to tell you that you have a choice. You are not required to spend every holiday with your family. Some of you may think I sound like a monster or maybe someone that hates my family. The truth is I’m neither a monster (at least I don’t think so) nor a family hater; I’m very close to both of my parents and older sister.
Whether or not you spend the holidays with your family has nothing to do with how much you love your family. You are not a terrible, awful child if you want to spend the holidays away from your family.
Whether or not you spend the holidays with your family has nothing to do with how much you love your family.
Yes, your family wants you to come home for the holidays but if you only get 2 weeks vacation a year and you need a vacation that allows you to simply relax and do nothing, you need to do what’s best for your mental and physical health. I don’t think that makes you a bad person – do you?
So let’s say that you don’t want to go home this year? How do you tell the ‘rents?’
Here are some tips to get you started:
1) Be an adult about it.
Speak to your parents like an adult. Don’t lie about why you are not coming home and don’t make excuses. Own the fact that you want to do something different this year.
This is your opportunity to have a different kind of relationship with your parent(s). Whether you have a great relationship with your parents, or a complicated one, you will be faced with having difficult conversations with your family for the rest of your life. You need to be able to express how you feel to your parents, even when you know they aren’t going to like what you have to say.
2) Be kind but firm.
When you’re ready to have the conversation, be kind but firm. Start by telling your parents how much you love them and enjoy spending time with them but this year you have decided to _______________________. Don’t apologize for your choice. Don’t ramble on and on about why you are doing this and why you rather go to Mexico than Minnesota.
3) Don’t wait until the last minute.
If you normally go home for the holidays and are now thinking about doing something else this year, tell your family now. Give them time to digest the fact you are not going home. Also you have no idea what your family is thinking. Maybe your parents want to go on their own vacation and were planning on staying home because you were coming. Give them notice so they can make their own plans.
4) Make a plan to see the family at a different time.
Invite your parents to visit you. Suggest another time of year that you can come home. It’s important that your parents understand that you are not rejecting them but just making a choice this year that works better for you.
5) Accept that not everyone will understand or support your decision.
Anytime you forge your own path or do something out of the norm, there will be people who will not be so happy with your choice. It may not even be your parents. It may be your brother or sister who expected you to be home this year. It may be your best friend from high school who was really looking forward to seeing you this year.
If you are honest and sincere about your need to go on a vacation with your friends or your significant other, that’s all you can do. If someone in your life can’t accept that you will sometimes make your own decisions then you might need to rethink that relationship.
There will be people who think that you are being selfish. OK. That’s fine. They can think that. Are you a selfish person? Probably not. So don’t spend anymore time on what that person thinks of you. Does that person work the long hours you work? Do they have to spend 10 hours trying to get home and then another 10 hours getting back? No. You do. You need to put your own mental, physical, spiritual health above everyone else’s because if you don’t, no one will.
If you think that therapy or coaching would help you set better boundaries with your family or other people in your life, please call or email me to schedule a phone consultation to see if we’re a good fit.
Have a wonderful holiday season.