You Can Always Go Home Again

You Can Always Go Home Again

There's just no place like home.
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During high school, I encountered what seemed to be much more than my fair share of drama. I made friends, lost friends, made mistakes and achieved great things, but there was only one thing stuck on my mind: getting as far away from the town that I grew up in as I possibly could. Don't get me wrong, I had some absolutely amazing friends and I adore my family, but I was ready to start over and experience something new and meet a bunch of people who didn't know my name or anything about me. I was tired of the labels I had acquired during my eighteen years of growing up in the same small town, I was ready to chase my wildest dreams and leave the past behind.

So, college admissions time rolled around and 9/10 of the big schools that I applied to were out of state, the closest one (and my dream school) being five and a half hours away. Once I received my acceptance letter to my dream school and figured everything out financially, I was thrilled. I'd finally be able to get the fresh start I had been dreaming about and make a bunch of new friends and learn new things. Senior year flew by, and as graduation loomed, I began to panic. I didn't feel ready to hang up my cheerleading uniform or submit the last change to the yearbook and especially not walk across the stage to grab my diploma. "Where did the time go?" I wondered to myself as May turned into June and I was getting ready to say goodbye to the past eighteen years of my life.

An average summer came and went and then it was time to pack up the Ford Expedition and make the voyage to college. My fear turned into excitement as I realized just how much I wanted to go far away and start over. During my first few weeks, I learned amazing things, met wonderful people and had some of the best times. The best part about it all was that I could be completely, 100% myself and not have to worry about what people would think.

Unfortunately, things took a large turn for the worst around Halloween. I got a bone chilling text from my mom that my grandmother, a woman who I have adored since birth, had fallen and broken her pelvis and was really, really confused in the hospital. It was at that moment that I felt a pang of guilt. "I should be there with my family," I thought to myself. Finally, it was time for Thanksgiving and I could go home. My grandmother was confined to a wheelchair, and my grandfather was using a walker. The last time that I had seen them, they were both walking without help.

Again, I felt a huge shot of guilt go through me. I felt guilty that I was away having the time of my life while my family struggled to cope with the decline of my grandparents- the roots of our family. My 19th birthday was the Thursday after Thanksgiving, and I was back at school having fun with my friends. The next day, my mom called to tell me my grandfather was going to have to have emergency surgery, and I knew that at his age, it would be a big risk. I talked to him right before he went under, knowing that that very well could be the last time I'd ever talk to him on the phone. The moment I hung up, I began to grow incredibly homesick.

Winter break rolled around and my grandfather was still in the ICU fighting for his life. I was thankful that I had an entire month to spend at home, but not prepared to see my grandfather so swollen and sick on a ventilator that was literally breathing for him. My heart shattered with sadness and guilt, knowing that the end was near. I had spent so much time at school having fun that I missed the last few months of my grandpa's life. I could have visited more, I could have called more, but instead I was so focused on this new life I had that I completely abandoned my old one.

Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away shortly before I was supposed to go back to school, which left me having to leave town the day after his funeral, and I was a complete wreck. I didn't want to go back. I was fearful that the second I left, something else would go wrong, someone else would get sick or pass away and I would have never gotten to say goodbye. I loved school, the friends I had there, my classes and especially sporting events, but it felt like my heart was in two different places. The fact that those two places were five and a half hours away from each other didn't make things any easier. However, I did convince my mom to let me bring my car to school for second semester, and I have thanked myself for dedicating myself to persuading her every day.

Now, when I miss home, I can just drive there. The long car rides give me time to think, and it's always worth it when I walk through the door and see my dog waiting for me. I realized that no matter how much you may want to change, there really is no place like home, but that I love my home and the place that I go to school far too much to choose between the two of them-- so I chose both. I go to see my family as much as I possibly can, twice a month at maximum, and when I'm back at school, the memories from my visits help me feel less homesick. Don't worry, I still find time to go out with my friends and study while I'm away. It really is possible to have the best of both worlds, you just have to decide how much time you're willing to put into planning it out.

Since starting college, I've learned one very important lesson that didn't come from a professor: No matter how far you go or how old you are, you can always go home again.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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Realizing What My Final Goal Is Helped Me To Overcome My Obsession With Perfection

The motto "Pain is temporary; GPA is forever" have been words that have described my high school experience up to now. Looking back, I realized my obsession with perfection was unhealthy — what's much more important than perfection is knowing where you'll end up.

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After receiving my first almost-B, as well as undergoing various stressful social and mental moments in freshman year, I decided to be perfect. (Believe me; this was a tough choice.) I guess this decision was partly due to the fact that I was so panicked about my close brush with a 3.9 GPA (and, of course, with the disappointment of my parents) that my brain told me I never wanted to experience that frustration again.

The only way of avoiding the sheer horror of freshman year was, in my mind, to be perfect. I needed to be a stellar student, capable of not only excelling in academics but also standing out in my extracurricular activities. I promised myself I would never get below a 95 on the report card, and I would put all my effort into volunteering, violin and whatever other extra activities I participated in back then. I would receive high scores on all my standardized tests, and I would take the most rigorous courses my school offered.

Of course, thinking back on it, I was a pretty idealistic kid. I think I actually wore myself out more trying to be perfect than just dealing with the consequences of realizing that no one is or ever can be perfect.

But I continued to work hard, ignoring the fact that perfection doesn't exist. I took the SAT, wasn't satisfied with my score and took it again. Again, I wasn't completely satisfied with my score and made plans to take it yet again. I loaded myself with extracurriculars and essentially empty leadership positions. I found a part-time job to take up my already busy afternoons. I forced myself to stay up late, studying and memorizing information I would forget as soon as the test was over. (In fact, I like to think that my motto for much of high school was "Pain is temporary; GPA is forever.")

The only problem was that I didn't know what my ulterior motive or final goal was. I only knew that I wanted to be perfect. And I think the desire to be less perfect and to focus more on my mental health finally hit me when I asked myself the question, "What do you want to do with your life?"

Did I really want to spend my entire life trying to be perfect, knowing deep down that this was practically unattainable? Did I want to spend my whole life stressed, constantly caring about what others thought? Or was it ok to take a break sometimes and not be so high-strung?

I used to think that my final goal was getting into a good college. In some ways, it still is — after all, that's why I work so hard. But I've realized that I don't need to go to Harvard or to Stanford to lead a successful, fulfilling life. And what will I do after I get into that perfect college, once that so-called "final goal" is reached? I can't continue to get into good colleges my entire life — think about how tiring and monotonous that would be.

Sometimes, it's perfectly acceptable to not be perfect. I think certain societies and families expect nothing but perfection, and in my case, a combination of my own high standards mixed with the same high expectations my family sets for me caused me to be too obsessed with perfection. I know now that being flawless is impossible, and whenever those perfectionist tendencies start to appear, I ask myself the question: "What do you want to do with your life?"

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