So you have returned home from your first year of college. Congratulations: you survived your freshman year! Between the culture shock, the academic ton weighing down on you and the constant temptation of midnight pizza, you did not crack under pressure. You survived through finals and saying your goodbyes for the summer; you even survived the dreaded move out from your freshman dorm that took 10 trips and about 40 flights of stairs.
All of this seemed impossible to accomplish and yet you passed the test of freshman year with flying colors, or at least some flying colors. Your drive, or flight, home probably seemed as though it might never end as you anxiously awaited seeing your parents, siblings and beloved pets. As you unloaded your life out of your parents' car, I am sure you questioned how one person can own so much stuff, and how so much stuff could fit into such a small space. Your shower was a blessing, and your bed -- heaven on earth. As you lay your head down on your pillow the only thought you have is how blessed you are for the year behind you and how impatient you are waiting for the summer nights to begin.
I survived my freshman year, like many before me and beside me; as well as keeping sane through all of the move out and in disaster. However, returning home from college was not about what I had been through the past year, or what my summer was going to look like. Although I was overjoyed to have been in my own bed next to the people who loved me most, I had a thought in the back of my head that could not be silenced: College changed everything.
I do not mean to sound melodramatic as though I returned home a new person who now only eats arugula and listens to K-Pop. College changed everything because it changed the way I see life, the way I see home and the way I see college itself. A year ago I could not wait to get out of my house, to experience the freedom that college represented. I did not see the little things in front of me, but instead had my focus on the great big thing that college was.
I would like to think I have been the same person, generally, my entire life. I love sports, I am very athletic, personable, likely to get hangry and always surrounding myself with people I love, if not hiding from the world watching the latest episode of "Law & Order: SVU." College did not change any of this. It did not change me, or who I am known to be. College, however, changed the way in which I see and understand things.
A year ago, I would have never thought twice about watching "Bridesmaids" with my parents, but as I sat down last night in the basement for the first time in months, I watched that same movie I have seen 100 times and wanted to cherish it. A year ago today I would have never spent an entire afternoon cleaning out my bedroom, but today I woke up and did just that, because I wanted nothing but cleanliness, a fresh start to summer, a fresh start to my new perspective. A year ago today, I would have laid in my bed all afternoon and not thought twice about what my family was doing, but today I felt as though I had to attach myself to my parents' hip as not to miss another moment.
It is so easy in life to forget the little things in front of us -- dinners, movies, hearing your dad and mom talk together at night, hearing your backyard wind chimes. I challenge those returning home from their freshman year to realize all of the things that were not so readily available to them during the past school year. I challenge you to love deeper, to think more critically and to cherish the little things. Returning home for many may seem trivial and short lasting, many will even count the days until they can return to school. I am not innocent of these thoughts as well, but college taught me that relationships are not promised, home cooked meals are always good even as leftovers, being sick and not in your childhood bed is hard, and that peace and quiet can never beat the voice of a loved one.
Returning home from freshman year meant one thing to me: opening my eyes to the things I truly love, the things I truly missed and the things I truly need in my life.