I always knew that moving away to attend a university would be somewhat challenging for me. After all, I had lived in the same old home my entire life, driving down the same old roads, connected to the same old community. However, the reality of my heartache refused to settle in until the onset of last autumn, as I embraced my mother on what felt like my last day of being a child. I was about to live on my own as a freshman in college, working to pay my bills and acting like a responsible adult. I didn't feel ready, but I didn't want to admit that, either, so I waved goodbye and swallowed my anxious tears.
Honestly, I expected to adjust to the loneliness of being apart from family and friends, hoping to discover new ones along the way; however, the longer the months wore on, the heavier my steps became and the rawer my inner wounds felt. Every smell, every thought, and every person that reminded me of home threatened to elicit a quiet sob, and I often spent the night reminiscing about the past, my chest throbbing with regret as I held a rumpled pillow to my chest. Sometimes I felt tempted to make that phonecall to my mother, releasing my stress and telling her that I intended to return from college to attend a local one instead, if I wished to even remain in post-secondary education. However, each time I hesitated, and each time I resigned myself to cowardice. I couldn't bear to disappoint my future self, much less those who loved me; besides, I had worked so hard to acquire the scholarships that would allow me to attend the best school in my state, and the other colleges lacked the program that I wanted to enroll in. How could I let myself risk losing everything because of a little unhappiness?
As a result, the months continued. Exam weeks came and went. I learned and I did the work mechanically; I achieved decent grades, but the old sorrow transitioned into numbness, and I could barely muster the motivation to even care about life. I felt empty. In the past, I had assumed that social media, Facetime, texts, and phonecalls could help me sustain my relationships, that it would be enough to help me feel related. Unfortunately, such was not the case; the screen, the distance, and the time that separated me from everyone else exacerbated my grief and amplified my longing to be physically close. At times, I got the opportunity to visit, and during those moments I crammed as much as I possibly could into each day, waking up early and staying out late, laughing with friends and relishing dinners with family. However, as exhilarating and fulfilling those brief weekends were, the distress of leaving worsened with each instance, like scraping off a scab.
I know that I need a community where I currently live, but the yearning for my childhood friendships continues to claw at me, hampering my enthusiasm to develop novel relationships. Of course, I have made some acquaintances and I have met nice people, but I constantly subconsciously compare them to the people I have known for years and years, and I cannot help but want them surrounding me still. However, my heart must learn what my mind has acknowledged: Things will never quite be the same. My friends have each found their paths, and many have left my hometown at this point; of course, we can keep in touch, but we no longer exist in the same context, and our lives will only continue to drift in different directions. Perhaps that is part of the sick beauty of life; everything is constantly changing and adapting, and we?re continuing our journeys and improving ourselves with each stride we take.
I'm beginning to realize that I can hope for the good old days to return, but the more I do, the more I lose in this current moment, and the more dissatisfied I become. Moving forward, I'm going to seize the day, welcome unpredictability, make every second part of an adventure, and become involved. I needn't worry that I am betraying my past by enjoying the present, because that is the only way I can carve out a better future. Carpe diem, my friends.