That’s how many miles away from home I was.
I never thought I would be going so far away for college, but come August of my freshman year, I was 1,160.3 miles away from home and it wasn’t until I hugged my family goodbye that the magnitude of the distance sunk in. Before, I had assumed I would be going to school close enough to home that a weekend visit would be a quick road trip and that we would be in the same time zone.
The college I went to surpassed the mark on everything for me - academics, scholarship, atmosphere. Except, it was the only school I had applied to that was a plane ride away -- which doesn’t seem like the biggest obstacle, but my brother had just started elementary school and I had finally shed my teenage angst to appreciate my forever-giving parents. I didn’t want to miss out on being a part of my family’s daily lives.
The start of college throws social media into over-drive: new friend requests, new group invites, new events to click “attending” with you new friends. A weekly family phone call could barely sum up my mix of emotions during this transition. How I wanted to pick up dance instead of swimming; how I no longer needed to sneak a look at the campus map to find my way; how I considered transferring into the engineering school, the art school, or a completely different college all together. During a time when I was grasping for familiar faces and voices, I was communicating with my new classmates on Facebook more than I could with my family on the phone.
With the start of second semester of freshman year, I asked my mom to get a Facebook page. Not quite the status quo of events, I know. While most people may assume that teens try to keep their parents away from their social media lives with a ten inch pole, I wanted my mom to be a part of my social media life. I wanted my family to be a part of my life away from home some 1,160.3 miles away. I realized later on that the reason I opened up my digital life to my mom was because I felt open with her about my offline life. In the months leading up to college, our relationship had developed into one of mutual understanding and willingness to listen to one another. I knew that if she was concerned about any of my Facebook posts or photos, she would talk to me about them because that’s what she had already been doing in real life. I was willing to listen to her concerns and she was willing to listen to why I thought my scrunched-up selfie photo was harmless silliness. Our chats were two-way conversations that made both of us feel heard, which helped us settle on the same conclusions.
We are always told that communication is the key to effective relationships, and the child-parent relationship is no exception. That’s what got me to say “Mom, be my Facebook friend!”
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