They say you do not know what you truly have until it's gone, and I learned this very quickly when I got to school at the end of August. Waking up in the same place every day for the past 18 years gets old… being in senior year classes with people who were in your kindergarten class, rotating between the same couple places to hang out, eating at the same few restaurants, developing the same old routine, taking your family for granted because you have lived with them full time for all your life… it is all too familiar to the soon-to-be college freshman. But let me tell you… everything that was once so routine - so boring will become things you will forever cherish the second it becomes the past. The predictability of each day that drove you crazy will provide you with immense comfort when you have spent months stepping out of your comfort zone. Having somewhere to go back to that you got to know so well, and quite frankly, too well, is something you will be forever grateful for. I have been at college for just over two months, and I have already found this to be too true.
By the end of my senior year, I was itching to leave my small town in Connecticut. It is the only place I have ever lived - all I have ever known. I have always been one interested in travel and adventure; I have wanted to broaden my horizons and find myself by seeing life through a larger lens. With this mindset, naturally, I wanted to go to college out of state. And I am so glad I did. Going to a large university with a student population of over 30,000 has been a challenge, but something I needed. Meeting people from all over the country - all over the world - having new experiences, becoming more independent. That being said, all these changes at once can get overwhelming. A new school, new people, new classes, new way of life, new 'home'... all things that take a lot of getting used to and, at times, can become pretty stressful. Fully adjusting to this amount of changes in just a few weeks is just not natural. It takes months, even years. When you take a moment and think about that place you called home all your life, you couldn't wait to leave; you feel a sense of comfort. Being immersed in an environment where the majority of people around you do not know your name can make you feel so small. It makes you remember you are no longer in high school, no longer in classes where you know everything about everyone, no longer at home.
The first time I visited home was for Columbus Day weekend. Hopping into the car with my dad and being greeted by my dog at the door made me feel like I never even left. Reuniting with my best friend and driving around our hometown and all the places that were once part of our daily routine (literally… every day) but no longer are made me nostalgic. Coming home for the holidays makes the best time of year that much more exciting. Reuniting, reminiscing, sharing stories, making new memories, and even parting again makes you appreciate the place you once could not wait to leave behind.
Being so far away makes you appreciate the little things… meals at home, going shopping with your mom, waking up in your own bed, showering without shoes on (a blessing), hopping in the car to pick up a couple of friends, spending that extra time with your family - THOSE are things worth missing. School is great, and I am off to create many more memories and learn many more things, but having a place of comfort and predictability that you can always come back to is necessary for adapting to somewhere new. Moving on is healthy - it keeps you from getting stuck in the same old rut and getting way too comfortable with one small bubble you call life. But coming home once in a while reminds you of where you are from and makes you appreciate how you got to where you are today... and all the people along the way. You will be surprised when you realize the place you had all along begins to occupy a special place in your heart suddenly.