Walking onto campus the first day of my freshman year of college — I was terrified. I knew absolutely no one, I was in a brand new city, and I was an hour away from my family.
I'm sure everyone can relate to the intimidating first-day-of-college experience. It's pretty common, and it makes sense that people would be nervous in a situation like this. But even the stories I've heard that start like mine, scared and alone, usually don't take long to get to the point where those people make friends and join clubs a couple weeks into the year and start to have the time of their lives.
For me, it didn't happen quite as quickly. In fact, it took about three months into my first semester of college before I finally formed any friendships. I think this is partly because I was afraid any new friendships would somehow replace my best friend’s from home, as if I had a limited number of spots in my life.
But finally, I realized that making new friends doesn’t mean I don’t love my hometown friends any less, just that they can’t always be there with me and that it’s okay to let new people in.
And I'm still extremely close to the first friend I made in college, which tells me that maybe the torturous, friendless months were worth it.
To the amazing people that I've met in college, the ones I've formed irreplaceable bonds with thank you for being you, and more importantly, embracing me for who I am. I never imagined I would feel so comfortable around a group of people I've known for less than a year. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I'd add more human beings into the "best friend" category of my personal relationships.
But then again, I never could have pictured meeting people like you guys. People that I have so much in common with it's actually kind of scary. People who not only understand my sense of humor but share it and add to it. People who push me and celebrate my achievements.
You turned my college experience upside down, in the best way possible. You made it easier to breathe in a city I knew nothing about. My homesickness fades so far into the background when I'm around you guys that sometimes I forget it's there at all.
Thank you for sharing my love of insane TLC reality shows, of the “19 Kids and Counting" and “Sister Wives" variety. Thank you for sharing my deep appreciation for artists on both ends of the musical spectrum, from Amy Winehouse to One Direction. Thank you for not giving me weird looks when every other sentence out of my mouth is a vine quote. Thank you for somehow sharing both my love of Broadway musicals and the “Twilight" saga movies.
For a while, during my first month or so away at school, I genuinely thought I'd never make a single friend. And when I finally did, I never thought those friendships would be meaningful or last longer than a semester. But the fact that I have such great connections with you all, the fact that some of my favorite memories took place alongside you, shows me that the universe had plans for me all along.
To my emotionally unstable, emo-music loving, lush-obsessed, musically gifted Cleveland friends who are capable of making me laugh harder than I ever have: words can't describe how thankful I am for you. You made what should have been one of the scariest years of my life, my first year of college, easier than I ever could have done on my own. And more importantly, because of you, I have more people in my life that I know I'll be friends with for years to come.
While we may be apart for the holidays, we'll be back in the same zip code soon enough, and I can't wait for all of the amazing memories we're bound to make this year.