As I was driving home for Christmas break, I was about an hour out from MTSU, and it hit me like a brick. Tears welled in my eyes, I got all nostalgic looking out the window, and I realized that I have been so anxious about going home for Christmas break because I have genuinely grown to be a part of my college town. I had grown to love the community that I am deeply embedded in and my day to day go with the flow life. It seems like everything is a little less complicated and a whole lot more interesting in my college town.
College towns are so strange. For me, it was moving three hours from home to a city where I only knew a hand full of people because I needed new air to breathe, new people to meet, and a new place to call home. I needed new even though I hated change. I remember the first night I slept in my apartment after my first solo drive to Murfreesboro, and it was so strange to lay down in my bed, in my perfectly clean and color coordinated room, and imagine this would be what the rest of my life could potentially look like. I think lots of college kids don't realize that when they move out to go to college, they could be moving out for the rest of their life. I sure didn't realize that.
As I stared out the window nostalgically on my drive, I think I really began to understand what people say about how college forms you into a better version of yourself and why moving away for college is healthy. I am not a girl who loves change, although I love meeting new people, I love the people I'm comfortable with more. Moving away from everyone and every routine I have ever followed posed so many challenges and there were rough days and long nights and days I wanted to drive 3 hours just to breathe the mountain air again, but that all led to this day. The day where I was sadder to leave my college town for a little over two weeks than I was excited to be home.
I think one thing that gets lost in translation when people say they love their college town is this: I love my college town and I honestly can't imagine what my life would be like at this point without the people I surround myself with every day and the community I pour into, but I still love my hometown. I still love all the people who hug my neck when I come home, all the memories I've made all around my hometown, and all the laughs and special moments I've shared within my hometown community. I talk to my mom at least once a day and listen to all the small-town drama. I love home. I love my college town.
My college town and community have pushed me to lengths that my hometown never did. It's challenged my morals and made them stronger, it's made me laugh a little harder and cry a lot, its led me to pull many all-nighters, whether that be for fun or to slave over school work, and it's given me friendships with people that have grown into my brothers and sisters and the people who will always hug my neck. College is a wild ride, and without a strong community of people surrounding you and speaking love and encouragement into your life, it can become redundant and exhausting, but once you find that community, it's hard to let go of it, even for a couple weeks.
It's important to grow. It's important to take the leap of faith and walk into a crowd of people you have never spoken to because that's life. That's maturing. That's conquering fears and growing deeper relationships. That's taking advantage of the current season of life you are in, and draining every ounce of everything beautiful out of it.
My hometown will always hold my heart, but MTSU and Murfreesboro have grown me into a woman who loves a whole lot deeper, who is 100 times more intentional than she used to be, whether that be with words or actions, an ever-loyal brunch date, a workout fanatic, a girl who knows to walk away when needed, but to fight for what she loves, and someone who cares deeply about the people and things that she should.
Thank you, Murfreesboro, for showing me everything I was lacking in being my best self and for everything you will continue to show me over the next years.
Here's to the college town that is continually building me.