Last week Friday, I walked (skipped) out of my final day of work at Kohls incredibly excited to have an entire week off from work. I had so much planned, most of which included my book signing, sleeping, playing music, hanging out, and reading, because it was my last week in Folsom and I wanted to make it fun— that is the first time it really hit me… This was my last week in Folsom.
Over the past month, I listened to my friends complain about packing, cried about everyone leaving, and tried to stay present as we all hung out for what would be the last time for a few months. Then I got to hug them for the last time and let them go, knowing that each and every one of them was taking their first step on an incredible new journey. Somehow, soon enough several weeks managed to go by, hurtling past my eyes like a derailed train, before I realized that it was time for my own last-minute shopping and goodbyes. Because I was out of time, this is it.
There comes a point in all of our lives, several really, where we can look back and say “Right there— that is when I grew up just a little bit more.” This week, I’ve hung out with my parents (hugging them far too many times), watched Tangled and sung along to every song in it, stayed up later than I should watching One Tree Hill, and basically done everything that I am no longer going to be able to do. Even walking into my closet to pick what to wear will now consist of maybe four pants choices rather than seven. Singing in the shower, I’ll have to put that on hold for a while. Going downstairs to eat a bowl of cereal at one in the morning, that’s a no from my roommates. It’s overwhelming how quickly things are changing and how easily it is to realize all the things you know you are going to miss. I think Twitter summed it up nicely, saying “College is like losing your parents in the grocery store for 4 years.” I almost wish I didn’t have to go grocery shopping at all.
But I guess that’s the thing about growing up, or leaving home, or just getting out and starting our own lives… Sooner or later, we’ve got to just do it. Our parents put up with us for 18 years or so, getting us through the crazy soccer practice routines and exhausting SAT mornings. Now, it’s up to us. We all have a future we are chasing, degrees to complete and diplomas to get, on the way to becoming full-fledged adults. Maybe when we were younger we got a gold star for finishing our homework or a nice stamp that said “Great Work!” Now we get to pay large sums of money until we do get those classes complete and degree requirements met on our own accord. Going to college feels like a class in itself: Responsibility Shock 101. Well color me shocked and not quite ready, but leaving in two days nonetheless. It’s funny, I don’t think we’re ever truly ready for the big things. They just happen and we adjust to it all.
In trying to pack up my things to take with me, my guitar Delilah being one of the saddest pieces to leave behind, it’s almost symbolic to be packing up my childhood and taking what I can fit with me knowing that I cannot bring it all. The only thing I know for sure that I can hold onto are all the memories I have of Folsom, high school, my family, and these past eighteen years of my life. I think one of the things that prepared me the most for leaving is high school— four years of mandatory education, AP classes, students I knew by name but not by personality, and the togetherness it all ended in. A lot of people say that high school becomes irrelevant once you get to college, but I’m not so sure I can agree with that. High school for me was a lot of things, from hard classes to petty people, but everything I experienced in those four years has shaped me into the person I am today. Whether you loved those four years or not, I guess it’s our choice who we want to become after it knowing that this may be one of the few fresh starts you’re going to get.
Looking back on Friday nights riding around in a friend’s jeep, dancing around with a party light because we can, or just staying up all night watching Netflix, it’s hard to look at it all and know that I am taking a step away from it. Of course, I’ll be back for holidays like Christmas or summer break, but I have to wonder if I will ever truly be back. Am I ever going to live under the same roof as my parents again? Will I ever live in the same state as my best friends or my family? I know I’m just leaving for my freshman year, that I’ll be back here in 11 weeks or so, but the hard part is realizing that this is no longer going to be my permanent home— I am. This is where the phrase “home is where the heart is,” comes in, because that’s all I’ve got left to take with me on this journey into my future.
My freshman year is about to be filled with a lot of studying, new friends, hopefully a major change, and a new perspective on where I’m headed in life. I guess that’s a good enough reason to reminisce for a minute on everything I’m leaving behind. That being said, it’s also important to realize that our futures are bright, every single one of us. Whether you’re staying local for college, getting a job, leaving home, or embarking on any new opportunity, I say more power to each of us. Because this is our next step, the chance to take hold of our futures and go get it. No matter who you are or where you’re at right now, I believe that we can all find some way to keep moving forward. I have faith in the baby steps just as much as I do in the big changes, as one way or another, we’re all going somewhere. So here’s to all of us, the new paths we are setting our feet on to create, and good luck to each and every person ready to let go and move forward.