I was never one to rush my four years of high school, unlike most students.
Despite my point of view, I was constantly surrounded by people/friends who claimed to "hate high school", or "couldn't wait to grow up". This was the exact opposite of my perspective; I loved high school, and honestly didn't want it to end! But as the years went on, I couldn't help but become exhilarated when I realized graduation was inching closer, and closer. I remember developing a feeling.. The feeling of never-ending curiosity, always pondering the thought of my life beyond DHS (my alma mater), and anxiously awaiting the month of August, in the year 2016. This feeling heightened my senior year, primarily my second semester when the countdown to my move-in date officially reached double-digits; I couldn't wait for this feeling to become a reality! I would sit in my classes, daydreaming of this upcoming new chapter in my life. I was becoming more eager to discover a sense of newness, and move past high school life.
College: we often hear people call this time "the beginning of the rest of our lives", and they aren't lying! These years are crucial, they're the foundation laid before everything following our four (or more) years spent studying vigorously to achieve that degree we've longed for some time. It always seemed to be just a figment of my imagination, or that the year of 2016 would never actually come. I vividly remember this one memory that has stuck with me throughout these years.. One afternoon in elementary school, I was sitting with my classmates at lunch chit-chatting away, when we began to count how many years we had until we were officially "big kids". We calculated how much time we had until reaching middle school, high school, and eventually college.. and now here I am, already completed 2/3 of the milestones I longed for! I still don't consider myself a "big kid".
When high school student hear the word "college", they immediately think oOooO, freedom; they look forward to the big moments such as moving out, leaving their hometowns and parents, beginning a new life full of new friends, being able to have the option to skip class if they want, joining various clubs and organizations such as sororities/fraternities, or maybe even just being allowed to go to the restroom during class without raising their hand for permission first... who knows! Everyone has a different expectation of college, or what they think their college experience will be like. Leading up to my first fall semester, college was the conversation starter for nearly every person I spoke with. It really hyped my already high excitement level, I could NOT wait for August!!
I heard it all. My friends who graduated years before me would return from college on break and boast about how much better college is compared to high school: always sharing absurd stories about their all nighters, how much more lax life was in college, etc. I never spoke to one person who said that they hated college, but instead told me all about how they never wanted to leave. For the first time, I began to rush my time left in high school. I remember thinking to myself "Man, college is going to be a dream. I want to go now, can graduation hurry up?!!" Before I knew it, I found myself making a countdown on my mirror to remind me everyday that there were "X" amount of days until I moved away to college. I felt like the numbers on my mirror would never reach single-digits. Before I knew it the month of July rolled around and I found myself sitting in the floor of my bedroom packing up everything: sorting through old pictures, sentimental boxes I had made which contained a never-ending collection of ticket stubs from high school football games, movie tickets, concert wristbands, letters, hall passes, my old golf score sheets, and tons of other things I probably should've thrown away but I couldn't bring myself to it! All of the reminiscing was bitter sweet, I would be lying if I said I didn't cry over the thought that the moment I had looked forward to for the past four years, my dream, was coming true! That insanely large, three digit number on my mirror had become small enough to count on two hands, I was absolutely hysterical!
I was told repetitively, "Michaela, you're going to miss home", by almost everyone in my hometown. They told me over and over, how I would miss my family, my high school, playing sports, having home cooked meals, etc. The list goes on and on, but my reply was always "Oh no, I'll be fine, I'll manage! I can handle college, I'm so ready for the change. Besides, I will see my family on holiday breaks!"
I had planned to move away for college my entire life, so I was beyond prepared when the time had finally come.
The month of August has come and gone, and here I am sitting in the living room of my apartment in Auburn, AL with the title of a full-time college student. Time is ticking away quicker than I can express, and all I've been thinking about this week is what everyone warned me of: I'm beginning to miss the Gulf Coast, my forever home. Everyone was right: the college students who claimed moving off to college was the best decision they ever made-they weren't lying to me! I love being able to take my time wake up, to not rush like high school and actually make breakfast every morning (not grabbing a Pop-Tart for the car ride to school), and being able to take time to do a morning devotion everyday because my classes don't start until 10:00 am. I love doing the little things most people dread and see as chores like grocery shopping, or cleaning my entire apartment on Sunday afternoons just because, sitting on the couch late at night with my roommates rambling about how our days were, buying candles to scatter throughout the apartment, or even having to fix dinner and clean up every night! I enjoy that aspect almost as much as I do any other part of living on my own.
(P.S. I can proudly say I have not had one bowl of ramen noodles since I've been here, I feel accomplished! *pats self on the back*)
I've fallen in love with the newness of everything: the feeling when I meet new people, learn new road names, or new shortcuts to take to get my places quickest, new cafes/restaurants, and honestly just beginning a new life! College has changed me, without a doubt. I've only been here for two months, but it's already made such a positive impact on my lifestyle. My time management has already improved drastically; I've developed an obsession with cleaning, especially sweeping the kitchen/living room before I go to sleep (maybe I get that from my mom); my studying skills have become so much more strategic, and are MUCH more effective compared to how I studied in high school. My relationship with the Lord is stronger than ever before, and I'm so thankful to have found a church away from home that I love! Overall, I'm just trying out this "growing up" thing I've dreaded my entire childhood- but I want to do it the right way, and so far I'm loving it!
However, although the college students were completely right, so were the ones who warned me of the difficult aspect of college people forget to think of when entering freshman year.
I miss home. It sounds so cliche, but missing home is so much more than "home" itself. I miss being able to tell someone, "Hey, so up here the speed limit sign says 45 mph, but you really can go about 55 mph on the backroads." Moving to Auburn, or just away from Daphne in general, has opened my eyes to such a bigger world: a world outside of my small town culture I've lived my whole life in. There are so many things that I will forever appreciate now that they're three and a half hours away from me.
I miss being able to just drive down to Mobile Bay, or even Gulf Shores if I felt spontaneous, just to catch a glimpse at one of the million dollar sunsets Alabama is blessed with at every dawn. I haven't watched a sunrise/sunset (expect one time when I left the library at 6:00 am) voluntarily since I've been in college, because I never have the time! If I ever have spare time in my schedule, I'm usually trying to squeeze in a 30 minute nap.
I miss riding through town,recognizing people's cars by their parking pass hanging on their mirrors for the high school, and over-dramatically waving when you pass by your friend on the highway. Knowing that I could pull up to almost any car at a red light and there was a 75% chance I would know them was always exciting.
I miss running into my friend's parents or people I haven't seen in months at the football games, grocery stores, malls, etc. and losing track of time talking about almost anything and everything when catching up! I miss people knowing my family, and being able to ask about them and how they are doing.
I miss walking into the kitchen before school to see my mom in her scrubs running around the house, hands full of paperwork, rushing to fill her Yeti cup with Coke Zero or sweet tea before leaving the house wishing me a good day and never forgetting to remind me she loves me. I miss visiting my dad's house on Wednesday evenings, looking forward to the lunches he would pack me for Thursday at school (he always left little surprises, this was the highlight everyone at my lunch table's Thursday).
I miss carpooling to Moe's Monday with the same group every week, or agreeing to go to "taco tuesdays" at Dragonfly Cafe. My friends and I always found reasons to get together, usually over coffee or dinner, just to enjoy each other's company. I miss my friends back home so incredibly much, I always think of them and wish I could experience their first year of college with them. I miss the silly traditions we would have like passing a friendship bracelet around everyday for 2 years, or being able to say a completely off-the-wall weird catch phrase that only they would understand.. or knowing we can all sing any throwback song off my playlist (especially Fergalicious). I miss sitting around with them, looking at old yearbooks and noticing how much we've grown up and reminiscing on our awkward sixth grade phases (it was bad..).
I miss all of my siblings, so dearly. I miss them driving me crazy, and almost making me late for school 70% of the time. My brother would come into my room and ask "Does this match?" about his outfit for any special occasion, and chances are it almost never did. I miss spending time with them, and being able to run into them at school.
I miss the pep rallies at my high school, and the excitement of finding outfits week to week to correlate with our student section theme. Walking through the halls of my high school and being able to say "Hey!" to everyone or being close to my teachers and knowing I could use their printers when I'd forget to print something on its due date. I miss high school football games, and having to clean my car after every game because there was a never ending supply of glitter and confetti trailing behind anyone who left the student section.
To those the teens who have yet to experience college: there's so much more that goes into moving away, and starting a life away from home than just freedom. I personally never thought of it like this, I always thought of college like adulthood with training wheels, that I could take it easily and never miss home. But it's much, much more than any tricycle. College is like a train, with a specific destination, and it only moves forward. The transition is incredible, it's an important step for anyone wishing to further their education and seek a degree. I love my college town, and every blessing it has already surprised me with already. But man oh man, I will be one very happy girl on the day I am reunited with the town I love, cherish, and will forever consider to be a part of me. No matter how many miles away I may travel, or days I go without, I know Daphne, Alabama will always be where my heart will reside. No matter what my address says on paper, my home with always be the 251.