The first time I saw the Cleveland skyline, I cried.

All week leading up to my departure from East Lansing, I had gone back and forth of if I should really get on that bus. Taking a Greyhound two states away wasn't something I ever envisioned myself doing in my ideal free time. However, being a freshman with no car and in the middle of a long-distance relationship left me with very few other options, since my car at home was over two hours away from Wilson Hall.

Senior year, my boyfriend committed to swim for a university in Cleveland, while I opted to stay in Michigan and attend Michigan State. At the time, both of us didn't think much of it, solely because neither of us ever considered applying to the same schools. There was a mutual understanding that we both wanted to go in different directions, and I will always give us credit for coming to that mature realization so young.

However, most things are easier said than done. Since he was at school to swim, I quickly took on the role of being the one taking responsibility to travel, which I knew going into this next chapter of our relationship. I was anxious, because if for some reason I couldn't make it down for a weekend, that would put our relationship at more risk. We both became busy with classes and our lives at school, so talking was minimal for the first few weeks. If anything, I had gotten so in my head about where my relationship was at.

Jumping back to September, making the choice to leave my dorm room that afternoon in late September consisted of a lot of nerves. I wasn't just scared of the traveling aspect, but also scared to see what my relationship now looked like after a month of being apart. Would things be different now? Would we still be the same as we were at home? What if seeing each other once a month isn't enough anymore?

Although I was unsure of what I would find in Ohio, I still waved my friends goodbye and left for the station. Even though it wasn't easy getting there, I'm so proud of myself for taking a leap of faith and really allowing myself to give long distance a real chance. Below are some things that I've learned over the course of the last nine months.

One of the things I found that I had to learn fast was that it was okay to take time to adjust. Austin made some of his best friends a lot quicker than I did because he was a part of the athletic community, while I was still keeping my fingers crossed hoping that my roommates liked me. I was moving at a different pace than he was, and that was solely because our circumstances were so different. Doing long distance, you have to acknowledge that for a majority of the time, you're physically by yourself. Becoming comfortable with myself was one of the best gifts I gave myself this year.

There will be times where both of you are solid on the terms of long distance, and others where one person is struggling with it more than the other. On those days, it's essential to love them a little bit harder. Not every day is going to be a perfect 50/50 from each person, and it's okay to step up and love 60/40, and that's just the reality of it.

Additionally, communication is so important. Sending good morning/goodnight texts, arranging when you'll see them next, and FaceTiming as much as you can all help make the miles seem a little shorter than what they may be. Don't leave the other person guessing or unsure of how you're feeling, it won't help any situation that could arise.

Most importantly, time becomes so precious. Once a month, I would leave campus on a Thursday night, get to Cleveland for around midnight, and stay until Sunday morning. Making the most of every second and opportunity will have you looking back in the coming weeks and leaving a smile just thinking about it.

Long distance isn't easy, but it's also one of the most rewarding experiences. It allows both of you to get more in touch and rely on emotional feelings when the physical aspect isn't there all of the time. Personally, I am so proud of how far not only my relationship has come, but myself as well.