Tag Archives: college

small town girl

5 Oct


I grew up in a small town, some may say too small for comfort. One square mile filled with intertwining streets, yellow blinking lights and cookie-cutter-homes. The kind of town you can’t wait to leave and then immediately miss once you finally do. The summer I left for college I was eighteen, too young and too naïve. That was the day my life began, as an adult anyway. I knew that going into it, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to experience.  I knew getting out of my hometown would be a significant change, but I also knew doing so would be an experience of a lifetime. One I most certainly did not want to miss.

The weeks leading up to the big move, I continued to be given countless phrases of advice, which played through my mind like a broken record. “You’re going to have to learn to fend for yourself. Mom and Dad won’t be there to help. You’re not right around the corner. Never mix white and colored laundry. Make sure you eat. Be social and get involved. Be respectful of your roommates. Clean your room. Go to class. Study hard. Don’t party on a week night. Use your time wisely. Drink responsibly. Be careful. Never walk alone at night. Stay together. Call home and don’t forget about us.” Tough love I suppose and little bits of truth.

My parents packed the car that Sunday morning as I sat on my bed teary eyed trying to find the words to sum up the previous eighteen years. I looked around my bedroom at what was left behind; countless trophies exemplifying the years I had dedicated to athletics, select photos of my best friends and family, clothes I had since outgrown and a few faded stuffed animals. Memories of my high school years flashed before my eyes. It wasn’t that long ago when I was the new girl stepping foot into my first day of 9th grade, where did the time go? I foolishly went to the wrong Homeroom and then managed to get lost finding my second period class. Later that day, in the cafeteria, I became acquainted with who would later become some of my best friendsThat was the beginning of several beautiful friendships. Countless slumber parties immediately preceded that first awkward encounter. Laughter, junk food and guy talk, that was the general gist of those all-nighters. In those moments we were young, innocent, and loved whole heartedly. I pulled myself together, enough to collect the last of my bags, I was ready to embark on the next chapter of my life. I took one last look around, at the blue walls reflecting off my polar bear white carpeting, and closed the door.

The next four hours were quiet, no one spoke much. I sat in the back seat with little to no room to move, squished between my entire wardrobe and the door. I put in my headphones and tried to block out my thoughts. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was feeling, probably a mixture of nerves and excitement. It took several hours to unload the car and situate everything in my 5th floor dorm room. We grabbed a quick lunch and shortly after that my parents were back on I95 heading South. The first few weeks and even months were a major adjustment. One I had expected and even prepared myself for, but what I could have never known was how moving home would be an even bigger one.

Four years of college came and went. Four of the best years of my life. I gained a couple lifelong friends, experienced some tough life lessons and established a sense of independence. But most importantly, I grew up. I think that was the part that caught me off guard. We spend our entire life growing. Each and every day we’re growing older, growing wiser. When we’re living in the same town, with the same friends surrounded by constant familiarity, we sometimes miss it. We don’t notice the change in day to day life.

The first time I walked back into that blue walled, polar bear white carpeted room with my twin size bed, it felt surreal. Appearance wise it looked the same, but to me, it felt much smaller. Picture frames quickly filled the tops of my dressers, this time with new faces. To me, those faces were familiar, but to others they were merely strangers. I tried to reacquaint myself with old friends, all the while keeping up with the new. In my mind, I pictured us as those same innocent teenagers, when in reality we each had grown and matured separately into independent young adults. We were no longer those young, naïve and careless teenagers. We each had experienced four years worth of life without the other. Four unexplainable years, I for one could not put into words.

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting. Maybe I expected everything to remain the same. Like we would pick right back up where we left off. I guess a part of me hoped life had stood still during my absence. Although I knew this was silly and impossible, I was still hopeful. I quickly realized life had gone on for everyone, and at times I felt like I was being thrown back into it mid-run. No time to catch up or find exactly where I belong. My college friends were like family but my high school friends were home, comfort and familiarity. They are my childhood, something I can never share with anyone else. It took a while to regain that same level of friendship we had previously shared. Where do they fit? Where do we begin? How do I find balance?

Finding balance was tough. Not just with friends, but with family as well. College was time for me to make my own rational decisions, completely on my own. The previous years of rules, common curiosity and self respect my parents had instilled in me, were now entirely on my shoulders.  What kind of person did I want to be? I now had four years of independence. Maybe too much independence, but such is life. I always said ‘there is something to be said about being eighteen and entirely on your own’. That was my time to grow into my own being without being watched every step of the way. It was my time to be smart and do the right thing. I may have gotten a little too comfortable with the independence part of it. The coming and going as I pleased part anyway. I was now back in my parents’ house and with that came their rules. Sure I was given more responsibility and more independence with age, but that did not qualify as the same amount of independence I incurred during my four years at college. At first this was hard for me and a rather large adjustment. Not so much that I couldn’t do what I wanted when I wanted, but that everything was questioned. “Where are you going? Who are you with? When will you be home?” The phrases I heard endlessly when I was younger were suddenly returning. I felt restricted, young and confused.

I have since learned a lot about myself and realized these adjustments, although may have seemed extreme in that moment, were crucial. These are the moments I will cherish and be thankful for in the future. I have since gained a better understanding of balance in every aspect possible. If I have learned anything, it would be people come and go. Not everyone is meant to be a part of your life forever. Each person enters our life to teach us a lesson. Good lesson or bad lesson, it’s still a lesson and we continue to grow and learn from it. My friendships have grown stronger and have since become more real. My parents and I, although always remained strong, have regained a positive relationship and have since been able to find a common, mutual ground in which I respect their home and their wishes, all while they allow me the privacy and space I enjoy. In the end everything always turns out the way it should.

Sometimes we need a little insight, to see a situation from a different perspective in order to better understand its importance. Never get stuck in the past or question what is right around the corner. We fear change, especially in a scenario where everything has always remained the same. It is important that we allow our surroundings to adapt and grow with ourselves. If I have learned anything it would be, somethings never actually change, we just see them differently.