I am in the second semester of my freshman year of college. That is such a crazy thing to say. This year, I moved away from my home, discovered new passions, achieved significant academic success, met a whole new family for life, and even won a national championship as a Division I athlete. It might sound like the dream to someone listening, and I suppose when I stop and think about it, it really is the dream. But needless to say, it wasn't all hearts and roses on the way there. In fact, I've endured some of the hardest months of my life as a college freshman. And I'm here to tell you, despite how many times you've already heard it, that yes, it does get better.

In the first month following my initial move, I could've sworn my heart was split into a million pieces. It was the first time in my life I had actually experienced grief. Not even grief over a person, but grief over losing a fleeting stage of life. My last two years of high school were nothing short of golden. My friends and I lived one day to the next in constant adventure. I drove with the sunroof always open and pretty much hummed everywhere I walked.

When I arrived at the airport with two big suitcases on July 29th, I knew I was waving goodbye to all of it. And I couldn't help but wonder what on earth it was that was making me leave all of this behind.

I was pretty sure I had no idea.

To say I adjusted horribly after that would be an understatement. My heart breaks for my poor parents every time I think of how many tear-filled phone calls they had to deal with in just the first few months. I had no friends. I hardly even gave myself the opportunity to have them. I was grief-stricken and mourning how life used to be. I thought there was no way I would ever find more friendships like the ones I had at home. In my mind, those were impossible to replicate.

Of course, the adjustment was hard; it is for anyone. But I made it a lot harder on myself than I needed to. If you happen to recognize yourself in this story, please, please don't remain closed off. I eventually opened up and gave the people around me, and the place I was in, a chance. It surely took longer than it needed to. But that's OK.

And more important than all of this, I finally stopped looking for my home in everything I saw around me. I stopped comparing strangers to my friends, comparing Ohio to Minnesota, and comparing life now to life then. I finally realized it will never be the same. But that doesn't mean it can't still be beautiful.

I had to realize all of this to finally find the life that was waiting for me in college. It wasn't easy, but I have come out on the other side, and I can't imagine what would've happened if I had just given up and moved home like I so badly wanted to. Don't let this be your story. Hang on a little longer because you have no idea what's in store for you. Change is ugly and tangled and difficult, but oftentimes it is the only way we can find what's waiting for us. Embrace the change. And if it takes a little longer than you expected, like it did for me, that's OK.