Empty nest syndrome is something parents sometimes feel when their child goes away to college.

This has been shown in movies and television shows, but the impact it could have on the sibling who was left behind shows signs of this syndrome, which are often overlooked. A mother was surprised to discover that her child had felt ever since his older sister left for college, it was “as if a piece of the family was missing,” according to an article from the Guardian.

As the youngest of five siblings who are spread out across the country, I know exactly how that feels. When I was the one left behind while my older siblings were out partying, I mean, studying at school, it was as if a giant hole had been carved in my family.

Feeling sad and lonely can often turn into betrayal. It could have you pulling away from your parents and your friends because it seems as if everyone is going to leave you.

A sibling away at college is surrounded by the pressures of being on their own and preparing for the world ahead. The person left behind is usually standing there, wondering if the “goodbye” is more permanent than what’s been said.

“Separation can cause distance, but it can also bring siblings closer together,” according to an article from nwitimes.com, a national news website.

Since I went away to college, there has definitely been an adjustment period of balancing my family and my classwork to all fit together. Those feelings of betrayal and loneliness that plagued me when my siblings first left turned into guilt when I discovered that they must had been missing me, too.

My siblings and I have our ups and downs, but being apart has helped us grow and has made spending time together all the more important.

Psychologist and writer for Psychology Today Carl Pickhardt said being at college “neutralizes the old stuff out there” and once the student is away, “they can really appreciate the family relationship and the relationships with one another,” according to the same article from nwitimes.com.

Even though I hate the fact that spending time with my siblings in person comes around only a few times a year, us being separated helped me realize how lucky I am to have them.

When students are feeling anxious over being away from family, they can try talking about it to a friend or counselor on campus. A counselor session at the Student Health Center is available by appointment Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

It may seem awkward to talk to a stranger about your problems, but they are there to help you feel better. Telling someone about your worries relieves the burden of holding them inside, and you’ll find that a second pair of ears can guide you through your issues.

If that seems daunting, make that first move, and set up two or three times per week when you can talk to your sibling.

I know schedules get packed, but having those twenty minutes to chat can go a long way in improving mentality.

Don’t give up on communication just because you get frustrated. Family is always worth making time for, even when your 24-year-old step-brother has been calling you “pooper” since you were 12 years old.

Email Shania Savastio at shania.savastio@cardinalpointsonline.com

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