I could not wait to get out of high school; I was ready for bigger and better things. I wanted to learn more and focus on what I wanted to learn. I loved my friends dearly but I was ready to make all new friends and start from scratch.
I remember coming home in November of my first year of college, and my friend's mom asked how I liked it. "Oh my goodness," I said, "it's so much better than high school." She said that that was exactly what her son had said. It's still true; I love college so much more than I loved high school. I love that my friends are almost always around and that we're more like a family. I love the independence of college and the opportunities that await if you're willing to seek them out. I love having jobs right on campus and I love having people who cook so I don't have to.
Lately, though, I've caught myself missing high school. Why, why would I miss high school? I miss some of the people there, certainly. But... high school?
What I actually miss is having people around me who know me. There were people at my high school who'd known me since elementary school. By senior year, lots of people had known me for four years, especially the people with whom I'd been in choir or AP classes. These people were accustomed to my habits and my general demeanor. They were aware that I'm sometimes a little goofy but that I take my classes seriously. They had seen me on good and bad days. Choir kids had seen me at my most exhausted (which is not pretty) on choir trips. These people might not have known a ton of specifics about my life, but I felt like they knew me very well.
In high school, people just knew me by virtue of being around each other for seven hours a day, five days a week. In college, you aren't forced into this same type of structure. Sure, you have your classes, but they're probably not all full of the same people and they're probably not stacked one right after another and they probably don't even meet every day. You're not seeing the exact same people on the daily like you did in high school unless you make a conscious effort to do so.
Almost all of the people at my university have known me for a year or less. This means that it is nearly impossible for my friends here to know me as well as my friends at high school did. I still have to explain certain things I do or say. I still am telling them things about myself that I was so used to everyone knowing.
For example, by the time I graduated high school, I'm pretty sure everyone knew that my parents are both pastors. In college, I'll start telling a story assuming that people know this about me, and I get some of the strangest looks. It's times like these when I miss high school. I miss being around people who know me so well that I never had to explain myself. The funny thing is, if I went back to all of those people right now, we wouldn't know each other very well anymore because we've all had a year and a half of different experiences.
I guess the thing to take away here is just the awareness that we might not know each other as well as we'd like to, but that means there's all the more reason to spend time with the people we love and really put the time and effort into getting to know them. It'll make us more comfortable, more ready and willing to learn together, more compassionate, more connected with our communities, and will help us all feel more loved.