When you first move away for college, you don't necessarily think about everything you are leaving behind. Your family is the most obvious thing you are leaving. You no longer have someone to cook, clean, or do your laundry for you. You realize it's time to start taking care of yourself completely on your own. That's probably the most apparent thing you're leaving behind — the help.
Emotionally, the support of your family is changing. They will always be there, but now you can't just go into the next room and talk to them. You need to call and hope they answer, or wait until you know they're free. This is an adjustment, but you're not technically losing anything but convenience.
However, something I didn't really think about when I left for school was how strained my relationship with my friends was going to get. I thought my friends and I would always be there for each other no matter what. I didn't think the distance between us would matter.
It wasn't until the middle of my first semester that I realized how different things really became with my friends. We talked pretty often but not nearly as much as when I lived in the same town. It was weird at first. I thought I was losing my friends slowly but surely.
I soon came to realize that wasn't the case at all. Just because we weren't talking as regularly as normal, didn't mean they were going anywhere. We all had things going on in our lives and that's okay. We didn't need to be talking constantly to know we cared about each other.
As we started to get used to life on our own, we also realized how important breaks were. These were the times for us to really catch up. Getting together while we were all home was something we took for granted the first time. We didn't think anything of it; it was just like old times.
However when it came time to leave, we realized something: we had to separate for another few months. We'd be back to the occasional phone calls or texts. We didn't like this idea but it was the new reality.
Sure, over time I lost touch with some people. All friendships can't last forever, I suppose; but the real ones stuck it out, and we continued to get together as much as possible when we could.
You go through stages when leaving your friends. It happens every time, no matter how hard you try to stop it. You can't help but feel certain things when distance becomes a factor. It's hard accepting the fact that you can't drive two minutes and be at a friend's house. Depending on where you go to school, it might take days to drive there, or even require a flight.
You can definitely go through a lot of feelings in a short amount of time after leaving your hometown friends after a break. One of the most common feelings is that of hopelessness. Until you have made a solid group of friends at college, you may experience this more than you'd like to admit.
After something big or life changing happens, they're the first people you want to share that with. If they are not instantly available, you might freak out a little and feel hopeless that things will ever be normal again. After all, something crazy and big just happened! You need to give them the details! Ultimately though, you'll make contact and your world will begin to turn again.
Another feeling you might go through is misery. Maybe at first you feel like you won't make friends as good as the ones you have back home. Not saying you're trying to replace your hometown friends, but most people want to feel a similar connection to their college friends. It might feel miserable until you make said friends.
Take a step back and think about what is going on. You might be new to the area so making new friends could take some time. Maybe you just haven't found the people you click with yet, this doesn't mean you will feel like this forever. Sooner or later, you will find your people and the misery will slowly start to fade.
At some points though, you may begin to feel excited. This could be from many things. Maybe you're excited for your college friends to meet your hometown friends. (This was something that really made me happy. Seeing my two groups of friends collide — smoothly, I might add — was amazing.)
The feeling of excitement might come from the fact that you're close to going home and visiting your friends. You may be near the end of the semester or near a holiday where you get time off and that will bring anticipation into you. Knowing you're closer than ever to seeing your hometown friends can help spark some extra "oomph" in you.
The more you go back and forth between college and home, the more you realize what your hometown friends actually mean to you. For the most part, you've probably been friends with them for most of high school or through working jobs while at home. In my opinion, these are the friends that you should, and will probably have, for the rest of time. Of course, this isn't always the case and everyone is different.
They have seen you do things and heard you say things that most people will never experience. They know what you're like at your worst and definitely your best. Never take these friends for granted. It may seem ridiculously hard to say goodbye, but these are the friends that will always be there.
Before you leave for college, if you haven't left yet, take a minute to appreciate your hometown friends. If you're already at school, make time for your hometown friends when you go back. You will definitely ride an emotional roller coaster the first time you leave them, and it probably won't get any easier as the time goes on.
Hug them extra tight the last time you see them when visiting, you never know what could happen. Try and keep in touch with them as often as possible, too. This is especially important if you go to school pretty far away. Phone calls, texting, or FaceTime is essentially the only form of communication you'll have for a couple of months. This doesn't mean your bond is going to lessen, after all, they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?
Be thankful for what you have while it's still accessible. Distance can suck really bad but doesn't have to bring you despair. Sure, you'll definitely feel all types of emotions when you leave your hometown friends, but try and stay positive.
If the people you surround yourself with are your true friends, your relationships will not diminish. Hopefully you will actually learn to value them more in the long run. So take some time today and think about all the hometown friends you're about to leave before school starts up again. They've stuck it out with you for this long for a reason, don't let that slip away.
Sometimes it takes being away from someone for a while to realize how much you really need them in your life.