Out Of State, Out Of Mind: The Truth About Out Of State College
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Out Of State, Out Of Mind: The Truth About Out Of State College

For some, high school is the best time of your life.

Out Of State, Out Of Mind: The Truth About Out Of State College
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

High school is arguably the most interesting time of our lives as humans. Popularity, respect, and countless benefits come from high school success, but when you cross that stage and leave it all behind, how will you leave it's warm and comfortable embrace for far more mysterious pastures?

Some of us speed through it, head down, trying to escape the hell that is 6 AM alarms and constant judgment from peers. Others reside in the middle ground, not loathing the thought of walking through those doors every day, but not exactly thrilled to be there either. Lastly, there are those that found high school to be their stage, with a supporting cast and the role they were born to play. As a freshman, I kept myself in the middle, out of the way but not out mind. I went to class, made some memories with my friends, and tried not to rock the boat too much. Despite that intention, as I escalated up in grade, the needle started to shift.

I really came into my own my junior year. From freshman year on, I played both football and baseball and had an established group of friends that came from those activities. Junior year came along, and in the winter time, I decided that instead of standing pat that I would branch out and try something new. That opportunity came with a group called the Forensics team. Now, this wasn't about scouring bodies and doing an investigation (which is something I get asked A LOT). Forensics, in simple terms, was competitive speech and acting, an activity that didn't exactly mesh with the jock group I had found myself in from the very beginning. Despite the relative lack of interest from my friends and the mystery of how I would fit into this group of people, I dove right in.

After some expected growing pains and figuring out exactly what the hell I had gotten myself into, I began to really find myself in exactly the right place. Forensics led me to tap into a group at the school that I could have most likely overseen, and looking at the close people I met within it, I don't know if I would be the same without it. I forged bonds and connections that will travel with me wherever I go, and it gave me a new group of people that looked to me as a friend and a teammate.

For a while in my life, I looked back to the senior year of high school as the best time of my life. I was named a captain of my football team, voted on by my peers. My work in practice and my dedication to bettering myself earned me a position of recognition, and I took pride in that duty. In the midst of that season, I was also awarded the title of homecoming king at my high school. As a kid from South Carolina, who moved to a rural school in Michigan six years earlier, I was stunned. This was the moment where I self-reflected and got to see how far I had come. I had close friends in various cliques and was impressionable enough to have even those who I wasn't close with to vote for me. Despite the relatively small magnitude that event has on real life, it was something I was proud of.

As fall turned to winter, the trend remained upward. In my senior forensics season, I finished 2nd in the state of Michigan in my category in only my second year of competition. After a disappointing showing in my first state tournament the year before, this was another testament for everything coming together and seeing the results from hard work. The year winded down, and before I knew it I was sitting with the Class of 2016 in our gym, all clad in blue and gold gowns. Our futures were before us, and even if we didn't know it then, our lives were going to begin growing further and further apart.

Although this entire article to this point has been about how great high school treated me, there is always two sides to every story. A ying to a yang, a double-edged sword, you know the metaphors. While being caught up in the successes I experienced, I failed to see my shortcomings. As a student, I was above average, but I never truly reached my potential. I knew that I could get by doing the bare minimum, doing just enough to keep my head above water and keep my parents happy. I held those positions of authority and experience on the teams I participated in, and while I knew that they were important, I had some moments. In football, I let my emotions overcome logic when things weren't going my way, leading to penalties from officials and butting heads with coaches. In forensics, I had an issue with condescending to other competitors who didn't share the same success I had. At one meet, I was reported to my coach for one such instance and almost yapped myself off the team altogether. For all the good I had going for me, my refusal to address and fix my shortcomings were hurting me beneath the surface. I needed a change.

That change came with college, which felt more like a slap in the face. I chose Ball State University, an out-of-state university that took me 5 hours away from everything I knew and accomplished. I moved to Muncie, Indiana, where no one knew my name and nobody cared about the titles I had previously held. I had a fresh start, and with that came a host of struggles. Making friends, adjusting to the college workload, and keeping myself healthy without the support I had become so accustomed to. Freshman year was a low for me mentally. I was homesick and stuck in a routine where I was unhappy with both myself and what I was doing. I went from the bee's knees at a small town school to just a number in a system. Recognition and respect were things I took for granted, and in this place I found those moments to be few and far between. Getting by on the skin on my teeth wasn't an option here, and the extra effort was something I wasn't used to. I pondered moving back, giving it all up to go back to what I knew. It would have been the easy route.

I toughed it out. The key to my happiness in this chapter of my life was within myself, and it just took some self-motivation to get me to that point. I started small, talking to people in my dorm, putting myself out there to be seen. I built solid friendships and began to escape the monotonous cycle I had been trapped in since move-in day. I joined a couple of clubs that were based off some of my interests and met people that held the same passions and dreams I did. I began to regularly play recreational basketball, where I met the people that I now consider brothers and live with. While I knew the social life aspect would eventually come along, the most difficult puzzle was figuring out my purpose, and why I was doing what I was doing.

I had to do a great deal of soul searching, look deep within myself and decide that this was the place I had to be. I looked to my mother, who supports my dreams and believes in me to accomplish great things in this world. Out of state tuition is no joke, and both her and my father have made sacrifices to help me along my path. They have faith in me, even in times where I struggle to have it myself. I know that writing in this world is of utmost importance, and is an important position to hold in today's day and age. To crack into this field, I want to be equipped with all the weapons and techniques needed to set myself apart from the rest, and at this college, I feel am being properly prepared.

This is my story. Some of you have traveled much further than just a single state to pursue your education, and that is a brave leap. I'm sure you endured some of the same struggles I had, if not more. To those on the precipice of choosing, know the truth about choosing to leave the nest. It sucks. There are going to be trying moments where you feel alone. Questions will float about your conscious, providing doubt for the mission you set out for. Saying "don't quit" is cliche, and I prefer the term "grind". College is a grind, even more so away from everything you've known. Keep the big picture on the horizon, and know that in due time this is all going to be worth it. You've got this.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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