Another anxious call from your son who is away at university. You can hear the anxiety in his voice, the rapid talking and overthinking, as he shares again that he spent the weekend in his room alone.
Before university, it seemed that he was managing okay. In high school he seemed to get anxious around exams but always was able to deal with the pressure.
But he was never great at making friends. It seemed that once he made a friend that it wouldn’t last for long. This was always confusing for you because he was always such a likable kid. And you had such high hopes for him heading off to university. Maybe this time he would find his tribe, a group of kids that really got him.
Except it didn’t happen at all. Not even close.
He asks you again if he can come home. He says he can’t do it. He can’t get to class. He can’t get the assignments done or study for the exams. And sometimes he can’t get out of bed.
He tells you again, with tears in his voice, how lonely he is. He said he has tried to meet people but the same things that always happened, happened again. No one really seems to get him.
You have always been a supportive parent, working for the combination of challenging your kids so they can grow and knowing when they need support.
And you aren’t sure what you should do.
If you tell him he can come home, are you telling him that it’s okay to drop out?
If you tell him he needs to stay, are you turning your back when he needs you the most?
These are the young people that I see in my counseling practice. They are often lost, overwhelmed, and embarrassed that things are so hard for them.
They see their peers and siblings head off to university with little issue. And they so badly want the same but anxiety grips their life so hard that it makes even daily tasks so overwhelming.