Growing Up And Growing Apart
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Growing Up And Growing Apart

How it felt coming back from college.

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Growing Up And Growing Apart

The first day of my freshman year of college was easily the most overwhelming and emotionally exhausting day of my life. The stress my mother imposed on me as we triple-checked all my belongings--assuring that every last throw pillow, stackable drawer, and bin of clothing made it into the car. The slight discomfort as move-in volunteers cheered my name as my parents pulled up on campus. The anxiety when almost all of my clothes were not delivered to my dorm room -- only to realize that they were delivered to the wrong room a few doors down. And of course, the many, many tears as I said goodbye to my parents and my sisters. The day ended with a tearful FaceTime call to one of my best friends from home.

"I hate it here," I cried to her. "I miss everyone back home. I wish I never left."

And the funny thing is, that's pretty much how the last day of freshman year went too. The stress, the anxiety, even the slight discomfort but most of all, the desire to stay.

When you leave for college, you always hear about how your college campus will become a home to you. How you'll come to know your college town like your hometown. How you'll find your new favorite restaurants, your favorite places to spend time with friends, all these hidden treasures that you can't wait to show all the people back home when they visit. How you'll meet people who are going to be your friends for life, your future bridesmaids and best men, maybe even your future spouse. But no one seems to talk about coming back home. That transition has been glossed over. And for me, and many others, it's even harder to come back home from your first year than it was to leave in the first place.

Going to a new place with a whole new group of people provides freshmen a blank slate, and with that gift comes a myriad of possibilities. Some people completely reinvent themselves, others stay exactly the same, while others, including myself, truly discover themselves for the first time. I don't think college shaped me to become a completely different person, but when I came home after my freshman year, I realized that I wasn't the same girl as the girl who left. It wasn't serious introspection that allowed me to recognize it; it was the way in which I interacted with my friends from home that alerted me that something was different. Aside from a few of my high school friends, I simply didn't connect with my home friends like I used to.

Sure, hanging out was still fun, and I still love my home friends. But it wasn't the same as I remembered it. I thought, at first, that maybe it was because we haven't seen each other in a while and we had some catching up to do. But after some time, I understood the lack of genuine connection with my home friends not as the result of a year apart, but as a result of all of us growing up. College changes you. Being on your own changes you. Having to start acting like an adult and begin finding a place in the world changes you. For me, I think with that blank slate freshman year gave me, I became a more extreme version of the girl who left for college almost a year ago. I'm still the same girl at heart, but I see and approach the world differently. I connect with people differently. So, connecting with people from back home can be difficult at first. And in some instances, I click more with the people I met in college than those back home.

For me, that was the harshest truth I've ever had to face. Your best friends in high school might not be your best friends for life. And the takeaway isn't that your friends in college will be your best friends for life. The takeaway is that when you grow up, it's inevitable that you're going to change. Maybe not drastically, but for your entire life, it's highly unlikely that you're going to be the exact same. The impact of that change is that you drift away from some people and sometimes, the people who used to be your best friends may become people you see only once a year. So yes, sometimes growing up means growing apart... but in the long run, you'll find your way -- and the people who are meant to be there with you, will be there.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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