Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Self Discovery Through Life Lessons

For the past little while, I've been thinking alot about growing up and being an adult. I know, weird right? But seriously, it's like I suddenly woke up today and I am an adult. When did that happen? Time is going by so fast. And it seems like there's nothing I can do to stop it. It's been almost half a year since I moved out. I turn 19 in less than 4 months. I'm already in my 2nd semester of college. I have friends who are engaged, married, and on missions. I'm taking 16 difficult credits at a prestigious university. I buy my own groceries. I don't have a curfew. I'm almost 300 miles away from any close family. How did things change so fast? It seems like graduation was just yesterday, but the picturesque world of high school is becoming an increasingly distant memory. On the other hand, there are parts of me that don't feel adult-like at all. All my friends know I still can't sleep without my childhood stuffed animal. I call my mom about 12 times a day either asking for help or on the verge of an emotional breakdown. I get so homesick that I can hardly handle two weeks away from St. George without finding some excuse to go down for the weekend. It almost feels like I'm stuck in a weird limbo of sorts.

Either way, looking back on the past five (WOW!) months I've been on my own, I feel that I've learned a substantial amount about all those things (true or not) I heard about life in college before I actually got here.

1. You find out who you really are in college.

This I've found to be kind of true, but worded incorrectly. In my case, I've always felt like I had a pretty good grip on knowing who I am. I have always considered myself to be driven, ambitious, hardworking, and very self-aware. However, I say that this "life lesson" is worded incorrectly for the following reason: moving to college gave me a chance to start over with a clean slate. I got a chance to change things I didn't necessarily like about myself and emphasize things I did like. No one knew anything about who I used to be so I could really focus on working on who I wanted to become. As of yet I haven't joined a radical political group, turned to hardcore partying or become a tree-hugging animal rights activist. I guess it could be really different for other people in the same situation, I was just lucky I didn't want to change too much!

2. You lose touch quickly with friends from high school.

This is another saying I consider a half-truth. Once again, I find myself very blessed in this department. I guess the right way to say it is that you begin to realize who is important in your life and who your real friends are. I have an amazing group of friends from Dixie, and we have stayed in close contact, involving each other in our new lives as much as possible. However, I've come to realize that our friendship never had anything to do with school. My friendships that revolved around school and other activities are the ones I have lost touch with. Already eight months after graduation, I really only keep in contact with a handful of people from St. George, and find myself calling less people to catch up with each successive visit.

3. You find your real friends in college.

As for the friends I've made in college, I honestly don't know what I would do without them. I don't think people fully realize that the function of friendship in college is on the entirely opposite end of the spectrum from its function in high school. In high school, I had plenty of friends, but at the end of the day, I always had my family to come home to. In college, my friends are the only people I have waiting for me at home. They are the only physical support system I have to watch out for me, share important experiences with, and be directly involved in my life. For the most part, we only have each other. They become a kind of surrogate family to you. As I have said in earlier blog posts, you have this incredible, new group dynamic that comes from spending every day together. They become an integral, crucial part of your life. To be honest, my group of friends were certainly not who I saw myself becoming best friends with, but they turned out to be exactly what I needed. I found this quote that sums it up beautifully: "I've learned that your college friends become a kind of family. You eat together, go to dances, games, social events, laugh, fight, cry and do absolutely nothing together until you can't seem to remember how you ever lived your life without them in the first place."

4. You learn to appreciate your family in college.

SO TRUE. The most important lesson I have learned over the past five months is how much I took my family for granted before I left. Without them, I'm virtually nothing. They are the only people I know I can count on 110% to be there for me every day. Other people think I'm crazy because I talk to my mom so much but it's so important to me that my family stays involved in my life. I just wish I would have learned this lesson long before I graduated.

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