Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: The importance of family doesn’t end when college begins

My mom, my sister and I drove down to IU on Aug. 16. We loaded the car with as many of my belongings as possible, and then we were off. The next day, I was going to be on my own for the first time. 

Scary, right? I thought so too. My intention was to grow out of my shell and not rely on my sister, a junior at IU, but I don’t do well with new people. So, those first few weeks, I leaned on my relatives a whole lot. And that hasn’t really changed. 

Even though college students are encouraged to branch out, there’s nothing wrong with continuing to rely on family. 

The initial stress of moving to campus this August was beyond me, as I’m sure it is for many college freshmen. There’s new food to eat, new places to be and so many other little yet stressful new things. I was a ball of anxiety that was scared to leave my family behind. 

Though my relationship with my sister hasn’t always been perfect, I knew that I needed to keep her in my corner in order to feel supported and comforted during this new stage in life. 

I didn’t want to possibly push family or friends away by thinking that’s what I was supposed to do — branch out, grow and leave behind those familiar to me. Doing that would have quite literally added more stress to my life, according to an article from the U.S.National Library of Medicine. It cites that “strains in relationships with family members are an especially salient type of stress.” 

According to an American Psychological Association survey, 45% of college students already experience high enough levels of stress to seek counseling. If keeping strong familial bonds with those who care about us can reduce added stressors, we should all be connecting with family as much as possible. 

This has been especially relevant with my mom and grandma, two of the people closest to me. I now call my mom weekly and I text with my grandma almost daily. While I’m someone who fears missing out, this is something that’s allowed me to feel in the loop and keep my connections simultaneously. 

And, even though it’s encouraged that these connections should be kept at a distance, I really don’t see a problem with going home. I was constantly told to stay on campus as much as possible during my first semester, but that proved to be very difficult for me. 

A study done by Harvard Medical School found that exposure to high stress events was “strongly associated with mental health diagnoses.” So, if going home can be an escape from possibly high stress events, I don’t think that’s a hindrance at all. 

Though keeping ties with family doesn’t completely eliminate stressors in the life of all college students, it can surely decrease some of the stress we experience. In order to maintain our well-being, relying on people who matter to us is one of the most beneficial things we can do.

Elizabeth Valadez (she/her) is a freshman studying English and political science. She is a member of Chi Alpha.

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