Whenever the subject of school comes up, I can’t help but mention that, before going to college, I had only attended one school.
Yes, ONE school.
From preschool to high school, I walked the same hallways with the same people. Whenever I mention it to people, they look at me with surprise and say something along the lines of, “Wow, that must stink” or “I bet that got old really quick.” But, honestly, it wasn’t like what anyone thinks.
It was basically my home. I grew up there with my graduating class, a group of 91 students. And yes, myself along with 42 other students in that class spent our entire academic lives so far in just that one school. We even had our own name: the “Originals.” But now I’ve graduated and flown from the nest I called home for 14 years, which is a bigger deal than many can imagine.
It’s like leaving home, but it happens suddenly rather than gradually. It never really hits you that you’re leaving this place you call home until you least expect it. For me, it wasn’t at graduation, but about a month beforehand at my school’s Senior Banquet. I was giving a speech and suddenly it hit me that the people sharing this moment with me would all be leaving me and I would be leaving them.
It’s like the first time you get behind the wheel and you immediately see the world in a different light. Everything you once knew is now gone and a new reality, a new environment and especially new people are all taking its place. It’s a crazy experience, not only being in the same school for so long, but leaving it as well.
It’s like the feeling you have when your parents tell you that your family is moving and you have to leave everything behind. The place you once called home is now the place you used to call home. Everything is new now and you have to adjust to it. The comfort you had in those hallways is now hours away from you and you can’t do anything about it.
But, on the other hand, it’s also a good experience. It’s the first time in your life that you’re truly forced to face a completely new reality. You can’t walk down those hallways again for your freshman year of college. And, more importantly, you can’t walk with those same 91 people who shaped your life from preschool to senior year.
Even though it’s tough, it’s an experience that shapes you into the person you want to be and the person you truly are because after so many years, you now have to be yourself in a place where “yourself” is defined neither by your experiences when you were in middle school nor those the summer after high school. You’re starting over for the first time and it’s up to you to define whom that new “you” will be.
Lead Image Credit: Elizabeth Albert