When I was choosing where to go to college, I was torn between a school 1 hour from home or 11 hours from home. I desperately sought the opinions and advice from friends, family members, teachers, and older mentors, hoping to find some sort of definitive answer on which to choose
When it came to going far away, some people thought I would love it and thrive in a new environment. Others thought the opposite. After a few hours of laying in my bed staring at my ceiling contemplating what decision to make, I finally summoned enough courage to step out of my comfort zone and move somewhere completely new, where I knew no one. Thankfully, it was one of the best decisions I could’ve ever made.
Here are some things I learned:
Growing pains are real
I think a lot of students go into college fantasizing over the notions of “finding themselves” and “discovering who they are”. I was the same way.
I couldn’t wait to experience a totally new environment and learn about myself along the way. I romanticized the idea of blossoming into my best self, expecting college to miraculously transform me- but only in the best ways. Imagining I would come back home for break some completely changed and matured woman, I failed to realize that in order to grow, I would have to endure challenges and trials.
Moving 11 hours away from home was scary. It was uncomfortable, inconvenient, and overwhelming. But learning to navigate life without the comfort of my parents or childhood best friend taught me to be brave. In moments where I wanted to run back to my safe place, I was forced to be independent. Wrestling through moments of sadness on my own taught me to be self-reliant, giving me a sense of confidence I never thought I’d find. I was challenged to step out of the realm of everything I had known, but in return I found something so much greater: a genuine freedom from fear.
Home will still be home
In high school I had the worst case of FOMO. I felt like I needed to be at every single social gathering or else I would miss out on memories and inside jokes. Choosing a college far from home while all my best friends went to a school an hour from our hometown made me nervous. I thought I would feel left out when I saw pictures of all my friends together on social media and was tempted to choose a school based off of the possibility of missing out.
Here’s a secret. Wherever you go, you will make new friends. You will make new memories and you will have just as much fun as your friends who stay in state. And, when you come back home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, your old friends will still be there eagerly anticipating the fun stories and experiences you get to share with them.
Everyone’s experience is different
Going out of state doesn’t mean you’re more adventurous than your friend who chooses to stay closer to home for college, or even live at home during college. Both options have their pros and cons and any college experience can be a completely new adventure if you have the right mindset.
Some people who think they’ll love moving far from home and might end up hating it, while friends who thought they’d hate staying close to home love it. There is no shame in going to school 10 minutes, 1 hour, or 10 hours from home. If you keep an open mind and seek new opportunities, you will learn and grow wherever you are.
And wherever you choose, is exactly where you need to be.