Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

The Second Week Blues

This is not a post about writing, not exactly. But then again, it’s about life, so I’m sure there’s some practical applications in it, especially to you New Adult writers.
The Magpie officially entered her second week at college yesterday, though she was not quite through her first week of classes. We took her last Wednesday and she had five full days to get settled and meet people. The school sponsored a whole bunch of events, parties, mixers, meetings, on and on, all designed to help new students adjust to college life.
We talked to her three times that first weekend, then used the wonders of Skype to videochat on Monday. Everything was great. She was having fun (but not the wrong kind of fun), she had connected with a couple of people who look like they could be good friends, and she reports that she hasn’t met anyone who’s a jerk (despite some drunken shouting from the courtyard outside her dorm late one night). When my wife suggested we come out there for a day over the coming weekend (on the pretense of back-to-school shopping for the Catbird), the Magpie hemmed and hawed and gave a non-committal response. It looked like she was going to push us off until Parents’ weekend in October.
She’s a smart kid, the Magpie. She didn’t want move-in day to be a protracted affair with her family hanging around. It wasn’t quite here’s-your-dorm-gotta-go-see-you-at-Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t  long and drawn out, either. She was anxious to get on with things, and it’s tough to start forging connections when your parents and sister are hanging around all day. That attitude–“I need to be independent”–continued to come through in Monday’s Skype chat. It’s not that she didn’t want to see us, or that she doesn’t miss us; she just knows that the cord needs to be cut, at least a little.
Fast forward to last night. She’s gone through a full week minus one day of classes, things are still going well, but as soon as we saw her on the chat, you knew something was wrong. She looked and sounded tired, she poked at the corners of her eyes a lot, and I thought maybe there was a tear or two. But there was a good reason: her computer picked up a nasty trojan, one that’s proving difficult to get rid of. It kept her up late the previous night and occupied much of her free time yesterday, and still wasn’t solved. The Magpie can have a tough time with adversity; she lets things like this ruin her day (and who can blame her? It’s amazing how much of our lives get tied to computers). The funny thing about it, though, was how her attitude about our visit changed in three days. All of a sudden, she wants us to visit this weekend. And once it was decided that we would go, and we were trying to choose a day, she asked what we were doing today. Seems her classes get out at 11:40. Miss us much?
It’s all fun and games that first weekend.
Now, she’s got a reason to be down. Computer problems are very hard to deal with. And she had an assignment that had to be e-mailed to her instructor by 8 AM this morning, and she couldn’t access the internet, so it was on to plan B. Still, I think part of her problem stems from the Week 2 Blues. I have a theory on this. Week 1 is all full of excitement and stimulation, and emotions of every kind. You’re in new surroundings, surrounded by new people, all of whom are in the same boat as you. You’re trying not to get lost on campus, and trying to figure out which dining hall actually has good food, and you’re on your own, away from your parents and siblings. Independence! When classes start, it’s more of the same, and very different from the high school dynamic (I remember one of the big shockers for me was a professor cursing in class!). And then week 2 starts. You’re getting into routine and finding holes in your day. Two hours until the next class, what to do with yourself? Those holes give you too much time to think about your family and friends, the old hangouts and good times. It gives you time to be homesick, and gives you time to look around at other people and see how comfortable and cool they look. The first night or two at school is tough, because you’re very aware of not being home, but it’s still fresh and adventurous enough to be fun. The second week, though, watch out.
Of course, I could be wrong. It’s been a long time since I went away to college. I think a lot of you are much closer to it. What do you think? Did you experience the 2nd Week Blues? Have a great weekend, and thanks for stopping by.

7 Responses

  1. Aww what a great post! I hope you have a good visit! And I REALLY hope that she gets the computer problems fixed. Has she checked the school library? When I went to college, our library had tons of computers you could borrow if something like that happened to you but who knows now with everyone having their own laptops and tablets and such. Maybe schools don't need to provide access to computers. Maybe schools don't even have libraries anymore! LOL. Regardless, it is very frustrating and would totally have brought me to tears! Especially if my work was on there and I couldn't access it. I think your theory about Week 2 blues is right on

  2. I think those 2nd week blues do really happen to most kids. the thrill, the fear, the anticipation, the excitement all add up to a very fast first week! Then reality and routine hit and it's a whole new game. I hope the computer issues are settled quickly! That's such a huge pain for a college kid!

  3. I so could have written this post. Almost word for word, excerpt for my kid, it's his flash player that won't work. And when you need it for online lectures, that can be frustrating. Luckily, most campuses have computer repair & tech centers to help the students with this sort of thing. I directed my kiddo to the Tech Studio & Math Lab after speaking with both over the phone. He's actually so desperate now that he's going to go. Still, he's not much interested in chatting with me much. *sigh*

  4. I left a contentious, unpleasant living environment at home to go to college where I really connected with my roomies who made me feel very welcome. I even busted my buns to get extra credit so I could graduate early. I didn't experience the Week 2 Blues. I was too happy to be where I was.

    Sad, I know. I'm glad she's missing you, but I know she'll come around. It's quite an adjustment to make but such an exciting time. For both of you.

  5. I completely agree with you, Jeff. Week 2 comes with a hollow feeling. That's when the reality of the situation really starts to sink in.

    As for the computer, I agree with Lisa. The library is a great place to start. My university had its own little tech support station there.

    P.S. You're right! This post is of great value to NA writers. I will tweet it. 🙂

  6. Thanks, all. The update is she seems suddenly much cheerier–the virus was messing with Firefox. We told her to try using Internet Explorer through Safe Mode with Networking, and that enabled her to load a couple of free extermination programs. So far, it seems to have done the trick, and that has lifted her mood quite a bit. Now, she's just bummed because she couldn't watch "Doctor Who" last night!

    On a side note, she's got a friend from home who just finished her second week. This girl is normally all rainbows and unicorns; now, she's rainstorms and minotaurs. I'm definitely thinking there's a second week blues thing happening. I'm trying to remember when I was most miserable at college, because there was definitely a point where it hit me, hard. We'll see how the Magpie looks and acts today…..

  7. I caught mono my second week of college. Kind of put a damper on the rest of the year, actually….

    And even though that was a decade ago, I think I would still cry right now if I got a trojan on my computer! *crosses fingers*

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