The Daily Illini

Creating your own traditions

By Pari Apostolakos, Assistant Features Editor

Tradition; it’s a word we hear often, whether it be from the lips of our parents or in the famous number from “Fiddler on the Roof” by the same name. Traditions exist in our lives before we even begin to live them, so how can we be expected to give them up so easily?

Moving far away from home for the first time is challenging for an incomprehensible number of reasons, one of these being the comforts we had depended on (knowingly or not) being stripped from us.

By the very definition, traditions are dependable. They will always come around and are celebrated whenever it is appropriate. The university atmosphere throws us off our game by pulling us away from those traditions, those rituals on which we rely and forces us to go without occasionally.

In our minds, traditions are often viewed as extravagant ordeals that must be associated with a national or religious holiday. Although these celebrations obviously count as traditions, the simple things in life can also become traditions.

Your mother taking you shopping for an outfit to wear on the first day of school, watching a game show on TV every week with your siblings, chatting with your father over a snack when you come home from school or work every day. These are also traditions, the daily occurrences we often times take for granted.

More often than not, these are the traditions we miss the most. These memories are what define home for us.

If you are not fortunate enough to be able to celebrate events with your family throughout your time at the University, whether they be time-honored gatherings or simple slices of life, there are ways to cope; there are ways to feel a sense of structure again. And this is by taking the reins and doing it yourself.

Traditions thrive off of company and whipping up your own rituals from scratch will be easier (and much more fun) when those around you provide the ambiance of laughter, friendship and the key ingredient to any tradition: love.

Be sure those you choose to begin new adventures which create an atmosphere of positivity around you and keep away from flaky, unreliable people (for the sake of events like these at least).

As you inevitably create a community for yourself on this campus, try to gather your friends for specific reasons. Getting hot chocolate before a football game on a chilly fall day, buying snacks and watching movies in order to unwind the night after a stressful exam, these simple acts can grow in importance and become full-fledged traditions in themselves.

The key to starting new traditions is openness. Being open to new ideas and possibilities, rather than dwelling on what you can’t have, is imperative in these situations. The best homegrown traditions are not thought of in a day or right after reading a newspaper article. They come about organically and are more often bred out of necessity rather than desire. This is what makes them so compelling, so near and dear to our hearts.

Letting in new ideas and making room for new people and places in your heart is how new traditions will come to fruition. Simply try putting yourself out there to make new memories and it will be impossible for you not to succeed.

It will be scary, especially at first, and especially if you are not familiar with the traditions which take place in the American college atmosphere. In any new place, the way to make the most of your time there is by understanding.

Trying to engage rather than sitting out will make for a much more rewarding experience and when you look back on your time here one day, it will not have seemed lonely because you opened yourself up to new experiences. Even if you don’t like the events you participate in, at least you won’t have any regrets.

These traditions you can choose to participate in or create for yourself will not substitute or entirely replace the traditions you may have had to leave behind for a while. But they can help fill the cracks just a little. Maybe they aren’t meant to replace anything at all; maybe they represent the page turning on your life, the beginning of a new chapter. The after can be just as full and happy as the before.

Pari is a sophomore in Media.

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