On June 17, 2016, I walked across the stage to receive my high school diploma from my principal. I sat down quietly, yet my mind was racing as I scanned through this little piece of paper that held so much meaning. Gazing at the seats filled by those who I had been attending school with my whole lives, I wondered how it would be like to start all over again in college like the first day of Kindergarten. All I could think about were the changes and hard goodbyes that were imminent to come. Those who were strangers once became people who I will remember for the rest of my life even if graduation night was the last day I would ever see them again.
Just looking around made me realize how grateful I am for all who have come into my life no matter what strength of relationship we formed. While my peers had tears streaming down their cheeks, I surprisingly was numb and without emotion. I felt as though it was surreal that my days of required schooling have come to an end and everyone that I have known was moving on to different paths of life. Still to this day, I can envision myself walking off the stage seeing cameras flashing and my smiling, proud family right in the front row of the aisle cheering me on. My graduating class and I ran outside the auditorium eager to throw our caps in the air all together as Cedar Grove High School Class of 2016.
Graduating high school was just the beginning of a new stage of life filled with independence and a variety of choices. I spent an overwhelming amount of time stressing over various college protocols and deciding on want I could possibly want to be doing for the rest of my life at seventeen years old. The pressure of deciding on how I want to shape my future had me at my breaking point more times than not. Post graduation, one has no choice but to attain a new type of freedom and opportunity for success, but so much stress should not be placed on having everything figured out at such a young age. One is bound to change from junior year of high school to when you are well into adulthood. It is very difficult to pick a career you will genuinely enjoy your entire life.
As one who generally does not deal with changes well, I dreaded graduating high school and being thrown into the unfamiliar realm that is college. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and made the decision to dorm at Montclair State University, which is a mere fifteen minutes from my house. Yes, I have heard it a million times, “If you are so close to campus then why are you dorming?”. This felt like the best option for me as it gives me the comfort of being in a familiar area, yet I still get the experience of living out of my house. Even though I am so close to home, I still experience the same symptoms as other college students that have moved out of their childhood home.
Through this time tears are bound to be shed and stress is unavoidable. Help should not be discouraged if you are really feeling like you are struggling. The change in environment and separation from friends and family takes a toll on every student, especially those who are like me and love living in their comfort zone. College may be scary and full of new experiences, but I do not think that it is necessarily a bad change even if it is extremely hard at first. At some point in life, one must make the transition from being a child who is mainly dependent on their family to an independent adult who is ready to start a life on their own. The increase in responsibilities that comes along with college can encourage or break a person. No longer will teachers remind you that an assignment is due multiple times and check up on you if it is never handed in.
Although change is a scary thing, it is a big part of life and you can choose to either accept it or hide from it. This is one of the biggest changes one has to experience in life, but once you adjust to it, you will experience the best years of your life and forever friends are to come.