College is a stage of life meant for personal growth. Leaving home and functioning as an individual can be hard for anyone who appreciates a healthy social life. For those of us in committed relationships, it may be even more difficult.

I spent the majority of the summer after high school at my boyfriend's side. We did everything together and simply enjoyed each other's presence. I woke up each morning excited to see his smile and hold his hand, and then August hit me like a truck. I spent the last few days before moving to college in bed with a stomach ache. The thought of being without him for days, weeks or months made me sick. Luckily, he coaxed me out of bed and we enjoyed our last few days together. 

Move-in day was more difficult than I ever expected. He helped my family move me into the dorm and the moment I'd been dreading all summer arrived. Saying goodbye was heart-wrenching. I cried for probably half an hour straight when he walked out the door. What I realized during those thirty minutes of tears is a lesson that will carry me through life. 

Being without each other now is beneficial to our future. I never want to be the stereotypical woman in a relationship who depends, financially and emotionally, on her partner. I want to be able to support myself and ultimately contribute to the future of our relationship. Succeeding in college and learning to overcome hardship are the first steps to achieving that. I find comfort in the fact that while I am bettering myself at my school, he is following his own dreams three hours away. My boyfriend happens to be a gifted athlete and passionate student, with determination that could change the world. He gives 120 percent effort into everything he does, and opportunities being provided to him are nothing short of incredible. I couldn't be more proud of him.

After a long day of classes, studying and "adulting," a late-night Skype call with him is a luxury. Seeing his face and hearing about his day makes all of the hardships worth it. I fall asleep afterwards with a full heart, knowing that we are one day closer to a future with infinite possibilities. I am lucky to be in a relationship with such a level-headed, motivated person that inspires me to be better each day.

College is, by far, the scariest, most heartbreaking thing that's ever happened to me. At the same time, I am thankful to have these four years to grow as an individual. I do not need to be with my boyfriend 24/7 to be happy. The best thing I can do for him right now is to focus on just being me. When the day comes that I can finally hold his hand again, we will be even stronger than before. After all, distance does make the heart grow fonder.

Lead Image Credit: Adriana Velásquez via Unsplash