By Gena Anderson | firstname.lastname@example.org
My first day alone at Flagler I stayed up the entire night on the West Lawn with some other students I had met only hours before. It was one of the most invigorating feelings I have ever known.
There is a certain novelty in the newly discovered freedom that comes with leaving home for the first time. For a lot of people, including me, that meant going away to college.
Eventually the novelty wears off. I started to really miss home.
At home I have friends who go back years, where as at Flagler the friends I made went back days, some even hours. Back at home, I know where all of the cool places to hang out are. I know how to get everywhere. I even have a few “well kept secret” spots for when I want to be alone.
If asked in late September if I would trade my new independence for my old life I would have said “Yes” without another thought and gone home.
I cried. I cried a lot actually.
I even took up talk of leaving at the end of the semester. Then one day I realized I wasn’t so miserable here anymore.
There was no single moment of realization. No neon signing reading “This is now your home” hanging above the city.
I had just settled in, found those close friendships I had assumed I would never make and got used to dorm life. I was even able to consider the Dining Hall’s food-like substances edible.
Then those dreaded thoughts came back. That’s the thing about homesickness: it’s a roller coaster. One moment everything is golden and glorious, the next it all comes crashing down around you. I think it’s just a part of mental growing pains. Life gets hard and we want to run.
Christmas break was heaven. It was everything I had craved…for about a week. Then I started wishing I was in St. Augustine again.
If I didn’t think I was crazy before, I did now. What was wrong with me? This was everything I had been dreaming about and now it wasn’t enough?
It was because of that novelty, that I thought I had gotten sick of, that I wanted to return to school so badly. After spending four months doing what I wanted, when I wanted, without having to tell anyone where I was, living with Mom again was not easy.
The old tricks of not disclosing all the details of my activities seemed both absurd and a burden. Worse yet, going back to hiding that I smoked cigarettes from my family was something my addiction to nicotine did not comply with.
Returning to Flagler was a relief, though not much later I found myself wanting to go home again. Spring Blink cleared that little problem right up.
Anytime things get difficult I have that fight or flight response, and I am not ashamed to say I often have to force myself to stay and fight. Education is important, but so is broadening your horizons.
Being the big fish in the small pond is very comfortable, but growing had an appeal I could not shake.
For all of the students who have these feelings from time to time I just want to say, “Stay.” The best part about friends from home is that the good ones transcend the distance. The best thing about home is that you can always go back to visit.
When the urge to go back is really strong, satisfy it. A good dose of that small pond usually does the trick, triggering all the reasons why getting the hell out of there was so important.
I find that the life I made here reflects more of what I had wanted my life to be like, even though I have to force myself to remember that.