Going away to college is a funny thing. For me, it meant ending up at a four-year University that I was almost certain I would not attend. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Clemson fan through and through. But my heart always told me that I wasn't meant to end up there.
My mom went to Clemson alongside two of my aunts some odd years ago. They absolutely thrived there. They were both in tri-delts and knew every single girl that lived in their hall. There wasn't a party that went on in Clemson that these two didn't know about. They were unstoppable.
A few years later, my uncle went to Clemson and eventually, my older brother ended up there as well two years before I did. I felt like my family had established their legacy. There were so many stories for everyone to tell, and I absolutely loved to hear them. But, I felt like I wanted to make my own mark somewhere else. I wanted to have my own stomping grounds and my own neat places to brag about. I craved individuality.
As my high school career ended, I had a much harder time choosing where I wanted to go off to college than I thought I would have. I ended up staying home for a year and going to a local technical school while prolonging the inevitable. It didn't help much.
I applied to a number of places, and Clemson was one of them (obviously). See, I had never completely ruled it out. Even though I was afraid to live another four years in the shadow of my family's greatness, it was the sense of comfort that drew me to apply to a school I already knew.
I had walked the grounds of tiger town so many times. At football games, visiting my brother, friends who lived in the horseshoe, you name it. I loved Clemson. I just wasn't sure that it was the right place to call home.
And that's when I figured it out.
Where you go to college doesn't have to feel quite like home.
When you first get there, it's not going to. Somebody has got to give out the tough love here. It's going to be weird. There's going to be a new smell, a new air conditioner to get used to, and a new mattress that doesn't already have a cozy indentation of your body.
There will be new people, new restaurants to make your regular spots, and new sights to see.
It's going to be a whirlwind. You'll make it your own in so many ways. You'll find your favorite spot in the library to study. You'll find out which classmates to befriend for help with your statistics homework. You'll easily weave in and out of campus foot traffic in no time, and know which sorority sisters need to be avoided at all costs.
And you'll be okay. Even if all of this new knowledge and all of these new places doesn't feel like home. Because it doesn't have to. You can make a new normal for yourself during the year, then go right back to where your heart is happiest during the summer.
This time is fleeting. You won't feel like you're on this deserted island forever. You won't have to listen to 50-minute lectures that feel more like a 4-hour opera. You're going to grow. You're going to move on. You're going to always know where your heart is the happiest. And that place isn't going to go anywhere.
So, if it isn't your school, don't panic. It's not that way for everyone and nobody really is going to blame you. Because even the people who paint up for every football game still miss their mommies when they get a bellyache.