How My School Became My Home

How My School Became My Home

It sort of happened slowly and then all at once.
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When I first came out to Colorado for school, I was doing exactly that--coming out here. I never said that I was moving here, or that I lived here, but simply that I was going to school here. It was only the education that had brought me across the country, and at first that seemed like the only reason.

But I noticed recently that when I talk about Colorado and the current position I am in, I say that I moved here and live here. This is true in an obvious way, I packed all my stuff up into boxes and drove here. I moved into a dorm, now an apartment, and that was that. I live here about 9 months out of the year, otherwise I'm back home. But home isn't my only home anymore, and I couldn't be more grateful for that. Colorado has truly become "my home away from home" as cheesy as that sounds. I live here, I mean that I really live out here. Not just the housing aspects, but this is my whole life now. Hiking, studying, socializing. This is where I found what I was looking for all of last year, I just hadn't been looking in the right place.

It seems like more and more often I find myself looking around and just thanking God again and again for this amazing place, this perfect fit for me. Of course there are rough nights and bad times, but that happens everywhere. I can't believe this new love of life I have--I'm so happy. And maybe I am this way because I know what its like being on the other side of the spectrum, feeling unfulfilled or feeling like something is wrong with you. I've grown a lot in the last two years and as much as I might've hated my school at one point, I don't regret anything. I wouldn't be who I am today without going through the things I went through (cliche, right?). But its true.

It sort of happened slowly and then all at once. I occasionally would just smile because I knew where I was meant to be, and then it kind of hit me all at once that I had not only found what I was looking for, but that its more than I ever could've imagined. Everything did turn out okay, it just took some time.

And I appreciate it that much more now, and I love myself, my friends, my school. I finally feel like I belong, like I am where I am supposed to be, and like I am going to be okay. If I went back a year to see myself, she would be a very different person. Someone who was struggling, someone who felt like she had no one to turn to, and someone who had just stopped caring (and not in a good way). I am a completely changed person, in a completely new place in my life, living a completely new adventure. And I love every minute of it.

That's how my school became my home.

Cover Image Credit: Maddi Burns

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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When Was The Last Time You Were Alive?

If you can't post it for everyone to see, was it truly a remarkable moment?

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Being alive is an essentially effortless act.

In theory, as long as you're eating food, drinking water, and performing as a human, assuming no major health conditions, most of us are living.

The tragedy I see most often is so very few of us are alive.

Now, I'm not suggesting you drop your textbooks and sprint up a mountain, or go broke trying to find yourself in new activities and events.

That's the illusion pressed onto so many of us. Social Media, more importantly, FOMO, has taught us that in order to truly be alive we need to make sure we travel far and wide, eat gourmet and unique food, and essentially, immerse ourselves in something phenomenal. However, regardless of what you do- don't do it without an audience and the value of your experience will only be justified by the number of likes you accrue on your #bestvacation ever because you #lovenature. With your back to the camera and wispy hair flowing in the beach air, you hit all of your angles, how else will you prove that you're alive to Instagram?

I fell for this too. I spent so much of my life constantly trying to get to the next phase life had to offer. High school was fun, but I was counting the days until graduation. Growing up in a small hometown wasn't awful, but I had sticky note calendars until my next vacation. And day in and day out, events would happen all around me that were just too "normal." I wasn't alive, but I was living.

Setting your soul on fire and truly living is so much more difficult than you could ever expect, but not because you have to drain savings and take along a buddy to snap all the perfect moments.

Choosing to be alive is realizing how important it is to be in this moment or phase in life and accepting it for all its worth. Instead of racing to the finish line or trying to sprint into your next season of assumed happiness, take time to notice all the beautiful and small things that make this moment so important. There is so much life to be found in simple moments.

Semesters are ending, we are all racing to summer. Perhaps in the process, take note of the routine cafeteria worker that constantly smiles at you and says hello. Or perhaps, giggle at the fact that in just a few short weeks that bus driver you see every single morning won't be apart of your morning routine.

The farther I get from what used to be my normal, the more I miss that season of life. I haven't lived in my hometown since I was eighteen, but I miss the simplicity that came with my drives to high school listening to Kanye West and the coziness of a small town opening its doors to start a new day. I never stopped to be alive in those moments, I was just simply living.

Wherever your next phase of life might be, it will always be there. You will always have something else coming. However, once this moment is gone. It's truly gone. Don't waste beautiful views trying to capture just the right picture for Instagram, take in the moment.

Living and experiencing life can be as simple as trusting that you're exactly where you need to be in life. Cherish each moment as you're in it. The next moment is coming whether you're ready or not.

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