I did not want to go away to college.

Imagine this. You're 17 years old, you don't have a lot of friends, you have a great job, an amazing steady boyfriend, and you have a short few weeks to commit to your future. Why would you want to go away to school?

That was my predicament. My parents put into perspective how harder my life would be if I had chose to stay home for school. I would have to balance working full time while commuting back and forth, and the schools close to me held a future of crippling debt if I decided to go.

Finally, before my 18th birthday, I committed to a school I had never visited where I practically didn't know anyone was going. This decision would eventually be the best decision I have ever made.

I am so grateful my parents pushed me to go away from school. Sure, I am 180 miles away from everything I know at home, but I am studying what I love and I have met incredible people from all walks of life that I wouldn't have crossed paths with.

College brought me my amazing sorority who are full of women who I admire and look up to. College brought me the program of my dreams where I am a dual Elementary Education and Special Education Major, with an extension on my license where I can teach Mild K-12 instead of only K-6. College brought me College Mentors For Kids, a program I am so passionate about where I get to collaborate with amazing people, schools, and work with the best kids I've ever encountered. College brought me the wonderful people of the Odyssey, where I aspire to be like half of the great writers as they are. College brought me the best relationship with my significant other, where our mostly long-distance relationship has bonded us closer than I could've ever imagined. Most importantly, the college has brought me to amazing people.

The amazing people who have, so far, helped shaped my college journey have been a dream. I can't believe how lucky I am to have met my best friend, professors who are passionate about their students and shaping the minds of future professionals, children who inspire me, my future bridesmaids, and individuals who encourage me to be the best version of myself that I could be.

Deciding to go away to college was the hardest decision I have ever made. I was scared, lonely, and worried about how I would fit in and who I would be. I was afraid I would hate it. I was afraid I would be a bad student. I was afraid I wouldn't belong. Luckily, I am the happiest I have ever been to. I don't have to go out every night to feel validated in my friendships. I don't have to go to parties or pretend to be something I am not to have a great college experience.

The moral of this story is essentially don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Test your limits and test your comfort. Have faith in yourself and faith in your future that everything works out the way it should in the end.

I am so grateful and blessed for Ball State University.