To the high school seniors ready to leave their hometowns,

Spring break, prom, graduation are all coming, and college is so close you can taste it. High school seems like a waste of time, and you probably are finding out how bad senioritis can actually get right about now. You’ve spent 18 years where you are and you’re ready to get out of your town, meet new people, and have the freedom that comes with graduating and going away.

But take it from someone whose motto was “out of state, out of mind,” take your time to appreciate where you’re from.

A flashback to June of senior year.

I had never been so excited to be done. No summer projects, no more high school, and college just down the road. The smile in all the graduation photos was the most genuine one there could be. I was ready to leave everything and head off to college.

Forward to August.

I was trying to do everything I could before I left for college. Late summer nights, going around all day, buying college sweatshirts when I was bored. I wasn’t going to see my friends everyday anymore so I figured I’d take every moment I could.

Continue onto freshman year at college.

Everywhere I went we started out by introducing ourselves with name, major, and hometown. I realized, I wasn’t home anymore, but that was the most exciting part.

2 weeks later…

I realized that hometown I couldn’t wait to get away from was one of the most important things in shaping who I am today.

Coming to a place where there are people from all over, you see how everybody turned out differently, and how much of that is because of where they are from. You realize truly how important where you are from shaped your personality.

It was easy to take where I grew up for granted—everybody always talked about how boring it was, how cookie-cutter it was, and even how tiresome the people felt. But when I came to college and the place where I was from started becoming an identifier for me equitable to my name, my love for my hometown grew.

Don’t get me wrong, I came with a couple t-shirts with my city’s name on it, and I couldn’t get rid of all my high school t-shirts, but I didn’t share where I was from unless it was necessary. It seemed irrelevant, we were in college now, it was just a minute detail in the grand scheme of things.

But then when you’re craving your favorite bagel place for lunch or want to go get ice cream down the road, at the same place you’ve been going for as long as you can remember, you realize that the hometown you grew tired of was actually pretty nice.

Then when you’re making conversation with someone about where you are from and start to describe your high school years and childhood and realize all the special things you got to do because of where you lived.

Or when you’re with your friends and you’re the only one who screams the name of your city when it’s mentioned in a song, and you realize how excited you got, even though you were the only one from there.

You realize that where you're from affected what you say (it’s pop), what music you listen to, how you dress, your opinions about the world, and even how you eat your food.

So to all you seniors tapping your foot against your desk, waiting to get out of that boring old town, take the time while you’re home to appreciate it. Yes, you can come home during breaks and during summer, but you’ll start to miss the little things you got accustomed to and took for granted. You’ll miss being able to cross the street and go to your best friend’s house. You’ll miss all the neighborhood dogs. You’ll miss knowing exactly where to go when you’re bored or hungry.

Take the last few months to appreciate the routine you got bored of over the course of the past 18 years, and when everybody and their cousin asks you where you’re from after you leave at the end of the summer, don’t be embarrassed, because it’s a big reason you are who you are.