I was so excited to leave home in High School. I didn’t look at UNC Charlotte, I didn’t care much for the in-state schools, I was utterly convinced that NYC was the place for me, where I needed and wanted to be.
I wanted to leave so that I could enjoy “freedom” and “independence”.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified. I was absolutely terrified. Couldn’t let my parents see it of course, but I was scared.
The fear grew worse when I didn’t get into any of my out-of-state schools. I felt defeated, I felt like all my dreaming, all my hard work had been for nothing. I felt stupid.
When I was accepted into UNC Asheville, and then sent in my enrollment deposit, the fear wasn’t present, but it also wasn’t gone. Orientation was fun, I went through that and survived. However, when the first two weeks of school came along. I was miserable. The first weekend in Asheville I thought I was on top of the world. Come Monday morning after an intimidating reading of the syllabi by the professor who ended up being my advisor months later-I was bawling my eyes out in the Honors Office, more homesick and distraught than I’d ever been at that point.
I was so distressed, I was essentially an introvert for 2 weeks. It was a dark time ya’ll.
You see, I wasn’t necessarily scared or distraught over school… Which was stressful don’t get me wrong, but it was the fact that I’d hidden the fear of leaving the people that loved me, and cared for me the most for the 17 years up until that point and I honestly felt empty without them. I had to wake up without my mom yelling and pulling off the covers or splashing water on my face. I no longer woke up to the smell of arepa and eggs, and bacon. I didn’t come home to my dad asking about my day anymore, and although I hated talking about my day as most angsty teens do, I missed having someone who cared about how my day went in the first place. I no longer could just run and hug either of my parents. That run would have been ridiculous seeing as it’s a 2.5 hour drive from Charlotte to Asheville. It all hit me like a ton of bricks.
All of this was new to me. And although I thought and dreamed of leaving and being awesome in a brand new place would be great and easy and not this emotional, I was floundering.
My two introverted weeks went by, and then things began to change.
I got involved. I was introduced to people, I spent time with my suitemates. I met the people who eventually became my best friends a few weeks later (still going well in case you were wondering). And just like that, I’d begun to form a new home. My second home, but a home nevertheless.
All that was left was the fact that I had to conquer the fear that without all those familiar things I wouldn’t make it. And slowly but surely I did.
Leaving home isn’t easy. Notice I’m not saying “wasn’t” because even now… 3 years later, I find it hard to leave my family. You develop a new perspective on your parents when you’re 112 miles away from them. They start to show you sides of themselves that they didn’t think you’d be ready for before college, and now that’s all changed. Funny sides. Weird sides. Sad sides. Awesome sides. Human-Like/Friend sides.
I think the hardest part is knowing that this entire time that I’ve been growing up they’ve been growing up too. Growing old. Changing. I guess i’d always seen them as superheroes and figured nothing would or could ever happen to them. And as an only child that’s really attached to her family, thinking of that is scary. And so each time I go home now I try and give one more hug, make them laugh a bit more, tell them more, ask for advice on life, school, and boys (even though that’s still not working, but we’ll get there), because I don’t want to miss out on any more chances to be a family for as long as I can help it.
And so there you have it:
Heartbreak #1 : Leaving home & family behind to a world both unfamiliar and terrifying.
Lesson #1: Family is something you cherish, leaving them is just an opportunity to work harder on developing your bond and connection. Enjoy them and every moment with them while you can.