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SERIOUSLY? Why am I crying?”

I was shocked as tears welled up as I hugged my daughter goodbye at the curbside of her dorm, as she launched into 2nd semester of her freshman year.

My daughter reassured me she was going to be ok. But, I already knew that.

“THIS is why I’m crying,” I sobbed, as she squeezed me tighter.

“You’ve grown up so much in the past few months, and I’m proud of the young woman you’re becoming and it makes me miss you in a whole new way,” I said

“Uh-huh” she replied with a goofy face, reverting back to the girl I knew.

“Keep making good choices, please,” I reminded her as my mind swirled with some of the stories she’d shared that painted a much-too-vivid picture of the actual reality of her stressful, anxious life at college.

This goodbye was different from the one in August, when we dropped her off at college for a brand-new chapter of her life and ours. That was a monumental goodbye—a milestone moment signifying the end of an era—full of hopes, dreams, and the anticipation of the unknown.

The second semester departure contained the anticipation of the “known”—a recognition of her new reality and the good and bad that came with it.

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As I send my two oldest daughters off to college my fear of them sitting alone at lunch or hiding by the gym lockers have moved to fear of them locking themselves up in their dorm rooms isolated and lonely.

I think my own social anxiety is triggering these fears. In my heart, I know my girls will push through the “uncomfortable” that always accompanies new experiences. I’m also a realist and know anxiety is a heavy load to carry.

For some students, be it 6th graders, high schoolers or college students, another year of school is another year of anxiety filled moments. Academic stress, athletic competition, social pressures and personal insecurity makes the start of school overwhelming and intimidating.

So much focus is put on academics and we forget the highest anxiety moments are the social ones. Since when is lunch the highest stress point of a student’s day? Sadly, it is the reality for more students than you’d think.

For students who live with ADHD, anxiety and depression, the “back-to-school” period is especially troubling. For many the fear of the unknown – like a new teacher, new school, or new schedule – can cause or exacerbate feelings of social anxiety. For students with ADHD these fears are magnified as their over-active minds play out one potential social catastrophe after another.

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College drop-off day is around the corner – Again!

Two years ago I hugged my oldest of 3 daughters goodbye at college and watched her walk into the next chapter of her life.

It was hard.

Really hard.
It was one of the hardest, most dreaded days of parenthood I’d ever experienced.

Sounds dramatic. I know I was sending her off to college, not war.

And still, the memory of that day is seared into my brain, along with some unexpected painful moments that snuck up on me in the weeks and months that followed.

And now only two years later I have another child packing up her room to head to college.

Recently, I’ve been rehashing what I learned the first time around. What I know for sure is that looking back and feeling sad robs me of being present for the moment I’m in now.

This time I give myself permission to feel sad, to miss them and then to get on with finding my new normal.

From drop-off day to the months that followed, this is how finding my new normal went down the first time.

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As you’ve been preparing to start college, you’ve likely been thinking of the ways — both good and bad — that it is going to be different than high school.

You’re going to be living in a new place with a roommate you probably don’t know. You’re going to be around all new people and have to make an entirely new group of friends.

Your parents aren’t going to be watching over your shoulder and nagging you to clean your room, but they also won’t be there to cook for you or do your laundry.

Stay excited about this new chapter in your life but prepare for the bumps ahead. Be realistic, there will be bumps. It’s how you prepare for them and tackle them that will make all the difference for you.

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