I never really had my place in high school... or so I felt. To some, I had a very typical high school experience. I won't say that I hated high school by any means, but they definitely weren't the best years of my life like they were for some. I had a good friend group, I was active in clubs and I played sports, but I still felt like I wasn't where I needed to be. It wasn't until I decided to leave home, and I mean really leave home, that I felt like I knew where I was and where I was going.

Senior year rolled around, and I had that itch to start fresh somewhere. My restart button came in the form of an out-of-state college. I'm a homebody, so leaving everything I knew wasn't the easiest decision, but it was the best. I've always been a person of comfort but stepping onto a campus where I knew absolutely no one was definitely an eye-opening experience. I could've followed the path that others did and stayed closer to home, but that wouldn't have gotten me to where I am now.

Living out of reach of your parents seems great, and sometimes it is, but it means you're really on your own. It means learning to do all the things you never did for yourself growing up. "You're only a phone call away" is true, but many times you'll find it's almost too true. You learn to depend a bit more on yourself and less on your parents who are hours away. I quickly learned that I was not anywhere near as independent growing up as I thought I was.

Being by myself forced me to find myself. I don't mean in the cliche way that they talk about in movies, but I do mean that I found the person who I wanted to be. It definitely didn't come to me in the form of some weird realization, and I can't pinpoint when it happened either. I can tell you that I found the confidence that I hadn't seen since I was a feisty 6-year-old. I didn't feel pressured to continue being a person I didn't like. I forced my introverted self to stop being shy and make friends, something I never really had to do growing up. It was almost like a culture shock because the campus was so different from my hometown. The people were different from the way they dressed to the way they talked.

Being in such a different place also pushed me to want to find somewhere I felt comfortable. I joined a sorority, which isn't something I planned on doing at all. I think if I would've gone somewhere closer to home then I wouldn't have felt the push to continue stepping out of my comfort zone. I would've stayed complacent.

These might all sound like things you learn when you leave for college in general, but it's not quite the same. Your safety net isn't so close, and you don't have a choice but to be your own support system and motivator. I'm not by any means saying that you won't have an amazing college experience if you don't go out of state, but the way you appreciate things from your childhood and hometown grows astronomically.

I am so grateful that I took a risk and trusted myself on this one. I'm now lucky enough to have friends from all over the US and even to have experienced a different culture within the borders of my native country. Your path may not be the same as mine, but I leave you with these questions to ponder before you make another decision whether that be if you join a club or try out for a club sports team: Which decision will take you a step out of your comfort zone? Which option has the greatest opportunity to teach you something about yourself?