College, The Best Years Of My Life? I Don’t Think So.

College, The Best Years Of My Life? I Don’t Think So.

Our high expectations often reflect what the world thinks we should do or be feeling, but we don't have to fit the same mold as everyone else.

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Sometimes this balancing act called life can throw us completely off-kilter, as it often does to me. It's as if you're walking on a tightrope with ease until suddenly you start to wobble and can barely remember how well you were doing mere seconds ago. Like being thrown off-balance on a tightrope, the bad things tend to overtake the good in our lives as well.

Whenever something in my life starts to go wrong at a time that's supposed to be "good," I become frustrated.

'Why is something like this happening to me during what's supposed to be the best time of my life?' I often ask myself. This has happened to me during so many stages of life, but it happens most often when I have unrealistically high expectations for what my life should look like.

I vividly remember everything I expected college to be: becoming best friends with my roommate, having highly intellectual discussions in my major classes, completing a Public Relations degree, and finding a job right after graduation. 18-year-old me would never guess where we would be today - graduated after 3 years of college and working in ministry. Nothing and I mean nothing, is exactly how I expected it to be when I first walked into my freshman year dorm room. I ended up having arguments with my roommate on the daily that led to spending most of my time in my neighbors' room. My best friend turned out to be my gorgeous neighbor who I didn't think would ever talk to me. I didn't get straight A's, I had three different majors, and the intellectual classroom discussions didn't come until my third year of college. Despite all of the things that I expected college to be, I still survived.

I had all of these expectations as to what my life should look like, and my experience only got better when I learned to free myself from those expectations and let my life play out the way it was intended to.

You see, I thought that things like not getting along with my roommate, changing my major so much, and not having a 4.0 GPA were "bad" things happening in what I imagined as the best years of my life. Even though most people will say college years are supposed to be the best years, they most certainly don't have to be! No one's life is the same, so we're not all going to have the same incredible or horrible college experience.

While we're balancing on life's tightrope, we often think that is the only path; we've seen so many people walk it before that we think we have to follow suit. We see others dancing with ease across the thin wire having the best time of their lives. But not all of us have perfect balance and can walk across such a thin line easily.

Some of us struggle and need to find a different path, and that's more than okay.

Just because the world tells us we need to be doing something or feeling a certain way doesn't mean we have to. Dropping our high expectations can help us live our lives with the freedom to do what's best for us and not just what the world wants us to do.

So, go! Be yourself and remember that you're doing the best for you, and that's all that matters.

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Why Getting Away From Where You Grew Up Is Important

College is the perfect time to get away from home and go out into the real world.
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As you get older, life sometimes makes it hard for you to take control and go to the places you've only dreamed of. There's always a work meeting, ballet recital, or something to hold you back from taking that trip planned four summers ago. College is the perfect time to get away from home and go out into the real world.

It's important to get away from everything you know at one point in your life. There is a whole world full of risk, chance, and experience. The security you have in your hometown can be traded in for adventure and change. There's a time to try something new, learn something that blows your mind, or go somewhere that takes your breath away. That time is now, to feel like you are actually doing something worthwhile with your life.

It is important to get away from where you have grown up for some of your life. You need to grow on your own, without anyone there to tell you you're wrong or out of line being a certain way. The transition from high school to college is the gift of independence. You choose who you get to be without anyone holding your past against you. It's a do-over, a second chance after the mistakes and regrets you lived through in high school. Yet, being away from home has its drawbacks as you lose familiar faces, a steady schedule, and many creature comforts. But, all of these can be found in a new place with time. Leaving the place you grew up gives you another chance to grow again, without boundaries. Travel whenever you get an opportunity because it may not come again. Test your limits while living your actual dreams. Go out and explore the world—you're only here once and don't have time to take it for granted. Leaving everything you know sounds scary, but there are great memories to be made out there.

Whether this new place for you is two hours from home, or 20, it's different, it's exciting and it's change. It is important to get away from where you grew up and learn from the adventures you embark on. It is the best way to find yourself and who you want to be. It's what you'll remember when you look back on everything you've done.

Cover Image Credit: Madison Burns

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For Camille, With Love

To my godmother, my second mom, my rooted confidence, my support

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First grade, March. It was my first birthday without my mom. You through a huge party for me, a sleepover with friends from school. It included dress up games and making pizza and Disney trivia. You, along with help from my grandma, threw me the best birthday party a 7-year-old could possibly want.

During elementary school, I carpooled with you and a few of the neighborhood kids. I was always the last one to be dropped off, sometimes you would sneak a donut for me. Living next door to you was a blessing. You helped me with everything. In second grade, you helped me rehearse lines for history day so I could get extra credit. In 4th grade, you helped me build my California mission.

You and your sister came out to my 6th grade "graduation". You bought me balloons and made me feel as if moving onto middle school was the coolest thing in the entire world.

While you moved away from next door, you were a constant in my life. Going to Ruby's Diner for my birthday, seeing movies at the Irvine Spectrum and just hanging out, I saw you all the time. During these times, you told me about all of the silly things you did with my mom and dad, how my mom was your best friend. I couldn't have had a greater godmother.

In middle school, you pushed me to do my best and to enroll in honors. You helped me through puberty and the awkward stages of being a woman.

Every single time I saw you, it would light up my entire day, my week. You were more than my godmother, you were my second mom. You understood things that my grandma didn't.

When you married John, you included me in your wedding. I still have that picture of you, Jessica, Aaron and myself on my wall at college. I was so happy for you.

Freshmen year of high school, you told me to do my best. I did my best because of you. When my grandma passed away that year, your shoulder was the one I wanted to cry on.

You were there when I needed to escape home. You understood me when I thought no one would. You helped me learn to drive, letting me drive all the way from San Clemente to Orange.

When I was applying to colleges, you encouraged me to spread my wings and fly. You told me I should explore, get out of California. I wanted to study in London, you told me to do it. That's why, when I study abroad this Spring in London, I will do it for you.

When I had gotten into UWT, you told me to go there. I did and here I am, succeeding and living my best in Tacoma. I do it for you, because of you.

When I graduated high school and I was able to deliver a speech during our baccalaureate, you cheered me on. You recorded it for me, so I could show people who weren't able to make it to the ceremony. You were one of the few people able to come to my actual graduation. You helped me celebrate the accomplishments and awards from my hard work.

When your cancer came back, I was so worried. I was afraid for you, I was afraid of what I would do without the support you had always given me. When I was in Rome, I went to the Vatican and had gotten a Cross with a purple gem in the middle blessed by the Pope to help you with your treatments. It was something from me and a little bit of my mom in the necklace, the gem.

Now, sitting so far from you away at college just like you wanted me to. I miss you. I wish I was there to say goodbye.

I'll travel the world for you, write lots of stories and books for you, I will live life to the fullest for you.

You are another angel taken too early in life. Please say hello to my parents and grandma in Heaven for me.

Lots of love,

Haiden

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