Although I'm only a Sophomore in college, already I feel I've learned a lot about what it means to leave the nest in this case. I was raised in a very small town in Massachusetts where out of my graduating class, I went to preschool with most of them.
We knew each other all very well and had seen each other fail but, more importantly, grow and flourish over the years. When I made the decision to go to school in Connecticut, I came to the realization that I would not know the other students. More than that I wouldn't know their parents' names or their special talent that was displayed in the class talent shows. I would know nothing about them.
Although at first, this frightened me, it began to feel liberating.
I might not know my fellow students but more than that, they would not know me. They would not know about my terrible eighth-grade bangs or the period of my life lived in braces. They would not know that in my town I was the cancer kid of 2017.
College is your chance, as cliche as it is, to start over and be whoever you want to be. The whole reason we go to college is to become a better or more educated version of ourselves.
You start your college experience on a blank page and you get to write what you're known for in this new life.
Don't put pressure on yourself to be something you're not though, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that this is your chance to find who you really are and share that with the world.
Something I never really realized until I left high school was the fact that the everyday drama that seems so important in school, truly doesn't matter in the great scheme of things. Maybe it was the fact that I left school early for chemotherapy that made it so obvious, but overall, life is so much grander than what someone else thinks about you. I spent so much time in high school focusing on what other people thought of me and how I looked and appeared that when I left, I took a deep breath of fresh air and realized it was trivial.
Life is so much greater than the things that give you anxiety.
In college, everyone is too occupied in their own lives to worry about other people and so much of this insignificant drama simply disappears.
On that note, there are the people that give you anxiety or even cause these self-deprecating thoughts that lead you to spend so much time staring in the mirror or deleting pictures of yourself because somehow you find different versions of your physical body unworthy. After high school, my advice to you is to cut them out. Delete their number, unfollow them, be happy. What they think of you doesn't matter and if they don't like you move on.
Life is too short to surround yourself with people who value you less than you know you deserve.
After high school, it becomes obvious who your true friends are for the simple fact that they will make time for you. They will check on you and ask you how you are and make plans with you.
When it comes to friendships, relish those wholesome relationships rather than aim for quantity.
High school can be some of the best years of your life and college can be the most influential. Keep an open mind and enjoy every moment. There is so much life to live.
Finally, I always thought that there was one set way to get an education. I felt that after you applied to a college and you got in and attended then that was it for the next four years. There is nothing wrong with taking gap years, transferring or doing whatever else fits your educational lifestyle.
There is no correct way to acquire an education.
Those who don't choose to go to college at all and are learning a trade are still furthering their knowledge. Those who take a year off to travel are still learning about the world and all that it encompasses.
Don't ever let these theories of what an education must include impede you from learning all that you wish to in this life.
There is so much to learn and much of it cannot be learned within a classroom. Allow yourself to fit your education to your own needs and desires. At the end of the day, it is your own happiness and knowledge that will matter. It is what you choose to do with these tools, with this life, after you receive your education, that truly matters.
Me on my graduation night 5 months into chemotherapy
Me in my graduation cap and gown. Check out the wig!