How Distance Changes Everything

You wake up. You put on one of your million high school t-shirts and a pair of cropped leggings. You brush your hair, eat breakfast and struggle to get out the door in time. You park your car and go about your school day in the same place you have been walking around for the past four years. You sit at your lunch table with your childhood best friends and after school, you go to some sporting events, eat with your friends and repeat the next day. These past 18 years, and in particular the past 4, have been a comfort for most of us. We do our routines, go about our days, not really realizing how lucky we are to have all of that in front of us.

As senior year begins, the thought of college is still far away. Everything becomes more sentimental as you enter your final year with the people you love. In the spring, people get accepted to college. People start committing to college. Still, the reality of college has not hit us yet. We smile on graduation day and laugh. We go through the summer, enjoying our last beach days and then, it comes. You are getting hit by a truck, full of these emotions that did not feel real until now. You watch your best friends pack up and leave, with the promise of many FaceTime calls and visits to each other. When it is your turn to leave, you pack up, say goodbye to your remaining friends, and head out from home. The place you have grown so used to is now being ripped out from under you. You arrive at college. Now what?

Two weeks into college and your group chat of your best friends isn't lighting up your phone as much. Those late night McDonald’s runs aren't happening anymore. You aren't going to your high school football games on Friday nights. Everything you've known is gone. You feel so far from your life before college, you start to wonder why you are there, how you are supposed to survive this distance.

For me, I was someone who wholeheartedly loved high school. All of my friends seemed to be packing their bags a little too early, while I longed for the days of no homework and late nights with my friends. I was not ready to say goodbye to that life. My hardest goodbye came three days after graduation. My boyfriend was leaving for the United States Coast Guard Academy. He would not have a phone for the entire summer. Upset but so proud, I said goodbye to him for the next two months. Trying to keep myself busy, I consumed myself with work and hung out with friends often. My boyfriend and I would write letters, something I would look forward to every day. I was in a good place with all my friends before we all parted ways. I was sure that I would talk to them everyday. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

While at school, I tried to keep in contact with friends at home. However, the demand of school work and constantly meeting new people here was something that made it difficult to hold a conversation with one of your friends over text. Suddenly, I wasn't the one featured on their snap story anymore, and they didn't need my help picking out a picture for Instagram anymore. Slowly, but surely, things were changing. Less updates from your friends, less texts and phone calls…

After being at school for two months, I can clearly see who is important to me. I have a few friends from home that I talk to a couple times a week, texting when we can and catching each other up as much as possible. It is no longer those big group chats of friends texting a million texts a day. It is still weird to see new faces with your friends all the time, but keep in mind they are in the same boat. You are growing at your own school, meeting your new group of best friends. And that is completely okay. Remember that everyone is going through this at the same time. The feeling of the unknown is scary, but once it's happening, you realize that it isn't so bad after all.

My advice for anyone who is about to tackle the challenge of distance: Meet your new best friends, explore your campus or wherever you may be, have fun and don't be afraid. Indulge yourself in the new experience and do not let the past hold you down. However, keep in mind that if someone is important to you, you must make an effort to keep in touch. Maybe just a text asking how their day was could mean the world to them. It is not the easiest thing to remember to text your home friends everyday, but a few times could go a long way. Keep those connections. After all, you've been best friends for 18 years, don't let a little distance change that. And for long distance relationships, work out a schedule to talk and listen. Respect each other and make sure you show your compassion. Some days will be rainy, but hold on for the long haul to see the sun. You will have to put more effort into your home connections in order to make them work. If they are really important to you, then you will be okay. Live freely and find your passion at your new home. And always be reminded of your roots that have lead you there.

Distance is only as far as you make it.

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