The Five Stages of Post-Vacation Grief
It’s official—you’re back to the grind. After a restful few weeks spent lounging in PJs and watching TV shows by the season, going back to school was the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do.
It’s extremely difficult to just jump back into a routine, especially when your daily life involves waking up before dawn, showering, shaving (if you’re a real go-getter), listening in class, answering mathematical problems, stopping yourself from drooling on desks, taking fill-in-the-bubble tests, socializing, participating in after-school activities, studying and working! How is one kid supposed to pull all of this off in the wake of a vacation that was pure, couchful bliss? We’re not sure, but what we do know is that you are not alone. According to our very scientific study, 100% of teenagers suffer from post-traumatic stress and extreme grief upon returning to school. Read about the five stages of post-vaca grief so that you can feel better and move toward acceptance during the second half of the semester.
1) Denial. You keep pinching yourself during chemistry to double check that you’re not having some sort of weird, torturous vacation dream. When assigned homework, you tear it up into little pieces and eat it to make it disappear, or convince yourself that this assignment is optional, as are the rest of the assignments that will follow this semester. You, friend, are in the denial phase. You’re in your own little world where the school rules don’t reign supreme. We hate to burst your bubble, but you can’t deny the truth, and the truth is that if you don’t get your butt in gear, you’ll be taking “dumb math” next year with the freshmen.
2) Anger. Once you understand the reality of the situation, you get downright pissed and begin to question the whole institution of school in the first place. Why do parents send their kids to be chained to desks all day? Why do teachers assign nightly homework that gets in the way of social interactions and favorite hobbies (like re-watching every season of “Psych”)? Why can’t we just be free to be who we are and develop our own strengths? As you angrily reflect on these questions, you will break pencils, punch lockers, and eat other people’s lunches. Your classmates will begin to fear you, which may be a nice side effect.
3) Bargaining. Since anger didn’t get you anywhere, you turn to a higher being, hoping that if you make some changes in your own life, your God will step up to the plate and smite your school. Perhaps he’ll send a plague of locusts, choose to flood it, or strike it down and demand that your teachers spend the next 1,000 years rebuilding it while wearing loincloths. In order to get God on your side, you pray to him and say you’ll start doing nice things that you never do, such as helping your mom scrub the floors, volunteering at the nursing home, and resolving to finally stop locking your little brother in the basement with the lights off.
4) Depression. Once both God and you realize that your promises are empty, you finally understand that you are helpless in this situation and can’t change anything. No matter what, you will spend 8:00am through 3:30pm listening to people ramble on about physics, suffering through a very harsh dress code and having old people make you do thought-taxing stuff. The fact that you can’t make your own decisions makes you super sad, powerless, and so depressed that you turn to the doughy chocolate chip cookies and Bosco sticks from the cafeteria for solace each lunch period. People start to notice your extra butt, which may be good or bad, depending on your own style.
5) Acceptance: After realizing your favorite jeans no longer fit (with your second butt and all), you begin to accept your position. Yes, school can be boring, and you have to complete assignments you may feel are pointless, and take classes in subjects that don’t interest you, but you come to the conclusion that school really does prepare you for life. Even if you don’t want to be a scientist when you grow up, the lesson you learn from physics is that all through life, you'll have to do things you don't want. Your current suffering shall pass (just like you will pass this class after only a few more months). You may hate a teacher, and one day you’ll probably hate a co-worker, so you learn to adjust and deal with it. With summer on the horizon, and freedom once again on the brink, you begin to feel better, ditch the snacks, and ace everything once again. You never eat your homework again, and your normal butt returns.
How are you feeling now that you are back in school? Are you grieving or are you happy to be back on a schedule and have structure in your life? Do you think having a second butt sounds kinda cool? Because we do!