Since starting college, home took on a whole new level of importance and appreciation. However, it also changed drastically in its definition. In high school, I wanted nothing more than to be out, away from home. I played sports, went to parties, slept at friends houses, etc to get the freedom I thought I wanted and was missing by being home. I went off to college and quickly realized that I took advantage of what I had before. I missed home immensely and felt like I wasted my last definite year there.
As college progressed, I still missed home but realized I was becoming happier in another place as well. I was making friends, getting acclimated to the area, exploring, and learning, obviously. I was having new experiences in a new place that slowly but surely was becoming familiar. One day during my junior year I had a realization that I drove around my college town as easily as I drove around my hometown. This hit me. Hard.
I still missed home and its comfort, but I was completely content and confident in this place that was once completely foreign. This is when I realized the true meaning of home. It's not about the exact pinpoint location of the house you grew up in or the zip code of your hometown, but a feeling. I never understood people that claimed a person felt like home until now. My friends who were strangers just a short four years ago are now people I can't live a day without talking to, even when I do go back to my hometown for holidays or breaks. They have grown into a part of me and made me feel the same comfort as being at home in my house.
This realization came at a very fitting point in my life, as I get ready to graduate and move onto another new place to pursue my career. I am not scared of leaving this new home I've built at college because I know the people will come with me and that feeling will stay. Though they won't be with me physically 24/7 like at school, which will need some serious getting used to, I know that just by talking to them and keeping in touch that my home is still alive. My home is now with me. It's the people who make me the happiest and best version of myself, it's being in their presence or in communication with them that gives me that same feeling of content and safety. As long as these people stay in my life, home can be wherever I am, and someday our paths will collide again and home can be a place.
I now know that I can take home with me wherever I go. It doesn't have to be a singular location that you leave and never return to, but a mobile and evolving entity that follows you like a shadow. Those people are your home and make you who you are.
Hold onto them.