At a university far, far from home

When I was fresh out of high school, I remember being so thrilled to finally leave my hometown and move to a new city. This was a coming-of-age moment for me, as I’m sure it is for a lot of us. Even when my parents got emotional on move-in day, I maintained my cool. As much as I would miss them, it was time to grow up and be on my own.

If I could go back to that day and hug my parents and brother one more time, I would. Every college movie portrays this moment completely different from how it is in real life. While college is so exciting and new, it is also a challenge. 

As a brand-new adult, handling my finances and grades on top of figuring out when I’ll do my laundry next is a major transition.

The harshest realization I’ve had in college is realizing that I can’t see my family whenever I want. Some students’ families live in Conway, Little Rock or other nearby cities. My parents live in Fouke, Arkansas, which is approximately a three-hour drive away from UCA.

Whenever I want to see my family, I have to plan at least a couple days ahead. That means making sure there is gas money in my bank account, my clothes are packed and that weather conditions are nice. Not only this, but sometimes it can be stressful to squeeze a month’s worth of quality time into a short weekend.

College gets very lonely. It doesn’t matter if I’m filling my free time with work and quality time with quality people. That homesick feeling never fails to catch up to me, whether I am having the time of my life with my friends or I’m in the middle of a workday at T.J. Maxx. 

I miss the simple things. The old cliche really is true: you never know what you have until it’s gone. In my case, I never know what I had until I lived three hours away from it. 

Waking up to oldies music playing and my parents messing with me to get me out of bed was always a Saturday tradition in our house. Driving my brother to school every day and fighting the entire drive just to make up in the parking lot were moments I lived for. The movie nights, church mornings, trips to the grocery store are the small moments I miss the most. 

I will never take for granted living with my parents. They provided for me and helped me with whatever they could. 

They also want this for me though. My parents raised me to persevere and to work hard in order to succeed. These two wonderful, influential people raised me to be independent and work for myself. I would not be where I am today without their guidance.

This is what I remind myself of when life starts to get tough. Moving so far away has been one of the hardest trials for me, but I feel more authentic. The growth I have gone through to get to this point would not have happened if my parents did not push me to take this leap of faith. 

Mom and Dad, thank you so much for pushing me. I miss you, and I love you.

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