If you asked me during my sophomore year of high school where I would be in four years, I would have said something along the lines as, "just far away from here."
Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, I always felt isolated from the rest of the world. Life away from suburban life always excited me with all the different possibilities and opportunities. I was blessed enough to get the opportunity to travel to Europe when I was 10, and even then, my parents took every weekend practically to travel to Pittsburgh. Now, I understand that Pittsburgh is nowhere like London or even New York City, but it had enough excitement that made life in high school worth living.
If you would have asked me to describe New Castle, Pennsylvania a year ago, I would have said the following: middle of nowhere, most avoid at all costs, and ultimately worth just driving by.
To be honest, I am only close with one girl who I graduated with. We were always friends since like junior year, but we definitely grew closer when we both went away for school.
Yet, in three weeks, I will be going back to where I grew up and I am so excited.
I am excited to see my parents, my dogs, and my only friend from high school. We already have plans to eat at our favorite restaurant and make our annual Sheetz run since we only really see each other twice, maybe three times a year now. It's a little ritual that always makes me feel connected to where I grew up.
Being in college, I know have grown to love my hometown. Every small town kid who goes to college in a major city knows exactly what it feels like to go home. It is where you have your own backyard, no Uber or Lyft available, and where you see deer more than people out and about sometimes. It is the place that allowed me to grow and search for opportunities away even if it was a big risk. Plus, my parents live there, so home is honestly wherever they are for me.
I use to have such a deep-rooted hatred for my hometown because I never felt supported in my ambitions and dreams. Many people when I voiced what I wanted for myself, would tell me I was "being unrealistic and needed to bring it down a notch because New Castle kids never leave New Castle."
Now that I'm away, I'm nothing but grateful. Sure, there were a majority of days I was just ready to leave Western PA. It's the place that made me for who I am today.
Who knows. I might not even be at Temple University if it wasn't for what I went through during my time there.