When you graduate high school while in a relationship, things can get a little tricky. If you're not from a college town or if you don't plan on attending the one near you, you're faced with some pretty big questions.
Is the relationship worth it? Can we do the whole "long distance" thing? How will it work?
Three years ago, I faced these questions with some uncertainty. My plan had always been to go out-of-state for college, to attend the big university of my dreams. I had applied there, and I even got accepted to enroll. It was a pretty big deal to me to achieve even a fraction of what I had dreamed of for so many years.
However, I had a boyfriend. It was a pretty serious one, since we'd been together for a couple years before I graduated high school. He was older, already in college. He came home pretty often since the college he attended wasn't horribly far from our hometown and we made it work.
When I got accepted to that far away college, things got uncomfortable. It was pretty obvious that he didn't want me to go there and wasn't a big fan of the thought of being a long distance couple. So, I compromised. I chose to apply to a college just under an hour away from our hometown, similar to what he did, so that we could continue to date. We were serious about each other, so I figured it was a sacrifice I could make for the long run. I wanted to make him happier by staying close by.
That didn't really work, though. Our personalities were painfully different, but this was only really highlighted in a negative way when I moved away. I was outgoing, involved, and loved to make friends. He was pretty much the opposite, and being older than me, he wasn't very interested in doing the things I wanted to do. He would come up to visit, but never wanted to interact with any of my friends or really do anything exciting at all besides sit in my dorm.
For the first two or so years that I was in college, we fought constantly. I didn't come home enough, I was too busy, and I was friends with people he wasn't fond of. I had a job, I was in a sorority, and I was involved in several other clubs, so my time was spread pretty thin. On the weekends, I would go out to parties totally sober for my friends but I'd get yelled at for being there at all. All of my actions were policed as if he was a father instead of a boyfriend. I was miserable.
I was afraid to talk about it publicly, but my friends knew how miserable I was and that the love had been gone for a long time. I was stuck at this university that I didn't really care about, that was too close to home for me to really feel like I had even left the nest at all.
After nearly two years of misery, I finally left that relationship. It pissed a lot of people off, especially the people back home who were friends with both of us. But they didn't know everything, just one side. That's OK, though. I really didn't care, because I was finally taking my life back.
I may have chosen to attend my university because it was closer to a boyfriend back home, but I love it even more now than when I started. I was able to become involved in campus activities and organizations without feeling guilty anymore. I was able to hang out with friends without being yelled at and tracked like a dog. I was able to enter a new relationship that was healthy, loving, and bettered my mental well-being instead of hurting it.
I've been able to fall in love with my campus all over again. It may be close to home and people I don't really care about anymore, but if I had gone out-of-state or anywhere else, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I wouldn't be in my sorority, or in my current relationship. I wouldn't be the best version of myself that I've seen to date. I wouldn't be this strong woman who finally learned her worth.
I used to regret my decision to attend the college that I do, but I don't anymore. It's my home, and no one can take that away from me. Thanks to my university, I've been given opportunities to grow as a leader, as a student, and as a person. I'm not the person I was in high school three years ago, that's for damn sure, and I couldn't be happier about that.
I don't necessarily think everything happens for a reason, but I do think that choosing the college that I did was a pivotal moment in my life. My high school relationship might not have worked out, and sure, college was a factor, but I'm glad that it didn't. My life is mine now, and so is my college experience.