In August 2018, I moved my entire life to Long Island, New York to go to school at Hofstra University. A lot of people are surprised to find out that Hofstra was my top choice for a really long time, but it honestly just made sense for me.
Both Hofstra and Penn State, my top two schools, have great communications programs and alumni connections. I was pretty much guaranteed a job after graduation no matter which one I chose and I knew that the community aspect of both schools was really strong.
However, there's one thing that Hofstra gave me that Penn State couldn't: anonymity. It seems a little backward. It's definitely easier to remain under the radar at Penn State which has 40,000 students as opposed to the 10,000 students that attend Hofstra. However, I can name at least 20 people from my graduating class that go to Penn State.
I wanted to get out of my hometown as much as possible. Going to Hofstra guaranteed that I would get a fresh start when I went to school. The people that I met in New York wouldn't have any prior judgments about me, and I could essentially reinvent myself, something that I needed immensely.
However, just because I live in New York 10 months out of the year, doesn't mean that going home is any easier. Don't get me wrong, I love my home, family and friends. Seeing the people that I love is always a great feeling, but I've written about how much I don't want to return to my past.
It's just not something that interests me, and spring break this year has made me miss New York more than I already did. I've been single for a while now. I've dated people here and there, but my last serious relationship was over a year ago.
I thought that my ex was out of my hair for good after I graduated high school. There are no hard feelings, but going to school and having class with people that you've dated is kind of awkward. I wanted out, and I thought I had that.
You'd be surprised at how often people STILL recognize me from when I dated him. Baristas, cashiers and grocery store clerks alike have told me I look familiar and then realize it's because they recognize me from old Instagram posts and Snapchat stories even though we've never met. It's annoying, and I'd love for it to stop.
When we dated, I always got annoyed when people would refer to me as "his girlfriend" and not by my name. It was annoying then, and it's still annoying that my main reputation to some people is because of someone I dated my junior year of high school. I worked hard to distance myself and coming home basically undoes all of that work.
As much as I hate it, though, I've decided that it literally doesn't matter. It's annoying and gets under my skin, but it's not important enough for me to throw a fit about. The people that I really care about know me for who I am. My hometown is just that, my hometown.
It's where I'm from and I'll always come back every once and a while to visit family and hang out with old friends on breaks and vacations, but my reputation in one town doesn't really matter.
I've met so many amazing people and made so many new best friends since leaving. They know me for who I really am, not just as a girl who dated that guy one time. I told my roommate when it happened most recently and it was honestly funnier than anything else.
In the moment, it was painfully awkward. But, it's kind of funny and a little humbling in a weird way. You should never forget where you come from. Everything that has happened has led you to where you are. I'm grateful for it, and I'm trying to remember that the opinions of a few people don't define me.