I remember the feeling when deciding colleges. Conflicted by who was going where, whether I like to admit it or not, because leaving home was scary enough—leaving my best friends of so many years behind too, was something I wasn’t ready to do. “You can’t pick college based on your friends,” they said. And so I didn’t. I tried to put that all aside, focus on what I wanted to do, while trying to pretend the thought of starting over completely, trying to find people who match up to these bonds and friendships I have shared for so long, didn’t terrify me. I was torn between two schools, one that had so many of my best friends and go to people that made it so hard to not immediately go to--and one I knew I would be equally happy at with an opportunity for the future I knew I wanted. I was conflicted for weeks, with so many tours and so many pro and con lists that I thought I would never be able to make a decision. That was until the day I had to make a choice. I chose Marquette University. I was excited and confident in my decision, but I was also the only one I knew going.
It’s still such a weird concept to me. You grow up somewhere for 18 years of your life and then suddenly you just pack your bags and start all over. I knew I would be fine, I knew I would grow to love it just like any new and big change, but I didn’t know how I would ever find friends to keep me grounded like my hometown ones. Friends to rely on at any given hour, friends who knew me inside and out, and who knew what I needed without me telling them what exactly that was. My hometown established some of my strongest and best relationships and they are such a big component of who I am, losing them was something I didn't want to even be an option.
And then weeks later, I found out one of my hometown friends was coming to Marquette. Reassurance of course, but then there’s always that underlying thought about college roommates—room with someone new because you have to meet new people or room with someone you knew so you don't ruin a friendship.
And so I did. I roomed with a new, random person who at the time was a Facebook introduction, and now is one of my best friends here at Marquette. I loved my school, loved her, met so many new people, and ultimately was so happy with the decisions I had made--to go here, to room with her, and everything else that fell into place too.
But there was some piece of fate that managed to follow me along the way. The day we got our rooming assignments, me and my hometown friend compared ours—only to find out we were in the same residence hall, same floor, two doors down from each other. And quite honestly, that little piece of fate became the best little addition to my years here at Marquette.
Move in day with a familiar face, I was reassured. When I would have a bad day, I was reassured. When I was in a tough place, I was reassured. When I lost someone, I was reassured. Through all the firsts and all the unknowns, I was reassured. I was reassured by the comfort of knowing that there was someone there who knew me, where I came from, and all the background pieces that would take a whole new 18 years to try and explain to someone new. It was someone to depend on, fall on, and take on whole new experiences with, she was an ongoing best friend.
College is all about meeting new people. It is all about new experiences and getting to see a whole new perspective. But I will be the first to say that not having a single familiar face isn’t the only way to make that happen. Not having that hometown best friend by your side doesn’t eliminate your chances, or ruin your experience—it makes it all so much better.
And if it weren’t for that piece of fate, if it weren’t for my hometown friend—the bad days would’ve been so much worse, and the times I needed guidance, stability, and reassurance would’ve been so much harder. For all the times I needed a reference and soundboard, or someone to reminisce on countless memories with at two in the morning, or someone to look forward to visits to see our high school friends with, or someone to experience new things with while comparing them to all the old, or someone look forward to seeing each other whether we were heading back for break or heading back from break—she truly filled that missing piece college always seemed to have. And now, I'm here. Second year of college and I’m roommates with the same girl I shared a sixth-grade locker hallway with.
It doesn't ruin an experience of something new, or take away from the new opportunity; it makes it all the more special to continue sharing memories and growing as people for such significant portions of our lives. Thanks for making college a place I never dread going to, and home a place I can always have in my back pocket—these years wouldn’t be the same without you. Here's to so many more, my friend.