The idea of coming home from college for almost four months has to be the worst idea known to man. Who decided to make me settle somewhere totally different, expect me to adapt in a few months, make an entirely new set of friends, and then before I know it have to come back home with nothing but myself, my memories, and about thirty different black shirts? Well, me, of course. This most likely isn’t a problem for everyone, because everyone is different. Some people don’t go away to college, some do, but still go home every weekend. Everyone’s college experience is different. However, I think that these four months will be nothing but good to me.
While on a walk earlier this evening, I began reflecting on this past year away at school. Being away at college seems like a blast, but just like everything else, it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. The difference between college and high school is obvious– regarding college, you are thrown into yet another small chunk of this big world all alone, to fend for yourself. It was up to me every morning to go to class or not. It was up to me to do my work, or hand in my paper on time. It was up to me to continue to eat right, exercise, balance friends and loved ones, and still be able to go and enjoy the city. It was up to me to go to bed at a reasonable time, but still get all of my homework done. It was up to me to manage my money, so I could spend $15 on one margarita every once and a while, and $40 on a plate of mac and cheese for my boyfriend and I, and still be able to afford a coffee the next morning. Jeez, that doesn’t sound fun, does it?
However, college taught me a lot. And although I have only completed one year, I am starting to hold the statement, “You are meant to leave college after four years a changed person” to be true. I have seen myself grow, not only as a student, but also as a young woman this past year. I believe I have become more intelligent, or at least I hope so for the money my parents are paying. I noticed myself becoming more passionate, and involved in my work, not only in school but also independently. I have discovered a passion and talent in philosophy and religion and writing like no other. I have learned to love myself as a whole, and also love another human being. I learned how to travel on the subways safely, and walk through the city minding my own business. I learned my limits, and not to depend on anyone to hold my hair back if I had to vomit. I learned to treat myself to one glass of wine, and enjoy every sip. I have learned to waste $60 on a bag, just to say I did. I have learned all of these things, all by myself.
For me, this summer is meant to be spent with my family, working hard and making money, and taking time to do the things I tried to balance at college, but was unsuccessful with. This summer will prepare me for an even better school year this upcoming Fall. This summer I can focus on myself. Living away at school is an experience, but there is no such thing as personal space. You are living with someone else, you are constantly surrounded by friends. There is no alone time, even when you think there is. Being home, I can focus on my writing, reading, exercising, and becoming more in touch with myself and my needs.
Home, for me, is about finding myself. Before college, home was home. Home was where I woke up every morning, and ended up at every night. Home was where my meals were cooked, I showered, dressed, and prepared for the day ahead. Home was where I was comfortable, maybe too comfortable. Until I went to college and learned that school was my new home away from home.
I don’t like to think that I took my home, or my parents for granted, because I know for a fact that I didn’t. But being home after not being here for a consistent 6 months or so, I believe that I now can hold my home to it’s true value. Home should not be a single place. Home should be a place, and a person, and another place. Home is wherever I am with my family, or wherever I am with my boyfriend. Home is wherever I can relax and read a good piece of literature. Home is in my bedroom, sitting at my desk. Home is sleeping on my grandmothers couch. Home, here in New Jersey, is where it all started. Home here, is where I grew up. Home is where, no matter what, I knew I could find my parents. This home is where I knew I was always welcome. I guess you could say that being away at college made me appreciate this home, and my family a little bit more.
Waking up every morning to my parents, and going to sleep every night with them there became just a routine for me. Nothing out of the ordinary. If my father wasn’t home, he was working, and if my mother wasn’t home, she was probably running an errand of some sort. I always knew where to find them, and I always knew what they were up to. However, going away, things changed. I didn’t always know where they were, and the same went for them. As I grew, they grew. They learned to live without their only child, their first and last love. The child who was always around, even though at times they thought I wasn’t. The child who came home every night exactly by curfew, just to kiss them right before they went to sleep.
Being away at college taught me a lot, but being home from college is giving me even more time to grow. Being home, I can relax, and focus on myself. I can read whenever I want to, and shower without flip flops. I can sit down all night and write my life’s manifesto, with nothing but my soft music playing in the background. I can cry about missing my boyfriend, without someone else dying to know what is wrong. I can sit on my bed with my eyes closed for hours, meditating, and thinking. I can connect with myself, and learn to understand myself even more.
And as I continue on my path to success, I am beginning to appreciate the little things more. I am learning to appreciate how grateful I am, and how all of these little things added up, and brought me to the big city I now call home. I never thought I would miss my mom’s strong coffee in the morning, downed in coffee creamer, which made it 70% creamer, 20% coffee. I missed being able to run downstairs to do a quick yoga session by myself. I missed watching the X-Files with my dad, or some sort of history show I wasn’t quite interested in at the time, but now find myself referring to in class. And most importantly, I never realize just how much brighter my day could be after a morning bear hug from my mom and dad.
Yes, college is fun. College is worth the experience; the knowledge, the memories, the mistakes, the lessons, the laughs until your ribcage hurts, and the like. College is worth it, because it makes living at home so much more worth living. I am excited for the next four or so months, to wake up every morning to a hug from mom, knowing that everything is okay. I am excited to tone my body, run, lift, and practice yoga more. I am excited to eat right, and by that I mean eat one of my mom’s delicious meals every single night. I am excited to watch television, and drink wine, and remember that no matter how hectic life gets, I can always find a home with my mom and dad.
So, I advise you, current-college-student reading this, or anyone as a matter of fact, appreciate home but don’t be afraid to leave. Make someone else’s home your home too. Find a home in someone else. Make someone else feel at home. Take the time to enjoy yourself, and your time alone. Take the summer away from your life at school to reinvent yourself, pick up a new hobby, or even an old one. Read a really long book. Meditate. Write. Smile. Laugh. And prepare to do it all again in the Fall– but ten times better. Get to know yourself, or as inscribed at the Oracle of Delphi, “Know Thyself”. No matter what, don’t forget where you came from, because that’s exactly how you got exactly where you are, at this very moment.