If you would’ve told me a couple of years ago that I decided to go to college in state, and not only that, but be less than hour away from home, I probably would not have believed it.
But here I am. Driving fifty miles to my parents on the weekends, and being so thrilled about it.
Especially when I was first thinking of where to go to school, I knew I wanted to go far. I didn’t and still don’t resonate with my home state, and the second I had the opportunity, I was ditching it for somewhere new. A place to establish myself on my own terms.
Obviously things have not turned out that way. I put my tuition money toward a state university that wouldn’t break the bank, in a small town that might disappear without the college kids coming back every year. It’s a school I’ve already spent countless time walking through in my various activities. I resisted choosing it for as long as I could, but needless to say, their excessive promotional mail resulted in admission.
Why do I say all this now when I’m graduating in about eight months? Because as I reflect on my time here, especially in the past few weeks, I am so grateful.
Grateful that what was originally a four-hour drive to go home is now less than an hour since my family bid my hometown farewell. Again, if this transition had happened any earlier, I don’t think I’d appreciate it as much.
Being young (yes, I’m technically still quite young, but my mind is that of a grandma) riles us up for taking advantage of everything life has to offer. If the world is so big, why settle in the one place you’ve always been? Why not become someone else, experience new things, do all of those cliche scenarios twenty-somethings are “supposed” to do?
Those desires are just masking what we actually want. Outside influences and expectations deceive us into “finding ourselves” by completely reinventing ourselves into new people. That sounds like another identity crisis. If we do want to do and be certain things, are we taking the time to reflect and ask ourselves, “Why? Why do I want this? Is this the right decision for me?”
Even though my high school self would have detested my choice, I know in this very moment, I’m where I should be. I am receiving a quality education and preparing myself for what will come next. I’m working hard and continuing to embody my most authentic self more each day.
And now I could not be more grateful for being so close to home. Because I do know that soon I will be saying goodbye to this place I’ve always known, but I have the opportunity to take advantage of every moment I can with the people that matter most to me.
Heck, I used to judge people who just went to a state school with family in town or close by. I wondered, are they just settling for an easy college experience? Never actually leaving home? Just another person staying in their comfort zone for life?
Sure, it could be the case, but who am I to evaluate their choices? Even just noticing the difference between a four hour and fifty minute drive has me in awe of the dramatic difference it has made in my life, especially as the relationships I have with my parents has dramatically improved. The convenience factor alone is amazing. To think that I can drive a short commute to get away from immediate college stress…why did I overlook that before? Why was I so stubborn to prove myself as a capable individual who can brave everything alone? News flash: we are nothing without our fellow community. Our relationships are the glue that keeps us grounded and truly alive. Making comparisons to others’ paths serves no benefit to us, especially if it sacrifices our own needs.
So I do think everybody should at some point, short or long-term, spend time away from familiar surroundings, away from their usual group of people and routine environments. But don’t feel ashamed to come back. There’s a reason that you’re drawn back, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for not fighting it. In a society that has young people deciding their entire life paths at high school graduation and expects everyone to immediately go off on their own to distant places and thrive, it’s perfectly okay to deviate from that norm.
Because the time you have with your loved ones is precious. Don’t take it for granted. And don’t take for granted that inner voice and calling. Trust its intentions, wherever it may lead you, near or far. And make sure that in this present moment, regardless of what the future holds for you, that you’re happy. If you aren’t, lean on your loved ones. They’re valuable resources.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie