It is that time of year when we hop on a plane, brace ourselves for unlimited mashed potatoes, and journey home to the company of our families and friends. Thanksgiving break is here. This is always such a happy, special time to be with your loved ones and to return to the comfort of your hometown. A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with my brother, who just started his freshman year of college. He expressed to me how much he was looking forward to the break and said to me, “aren’t you so excited?” I found myself having the immediate reaction of “eh not really.”
I’ve been thinking about why this was the first response to come to mind. Why was I not over the moon to go home? In my past three years of college, I have always counted down the days until this holiday and have always been more than ready for a break from my hectic college life. After reflecting on this feeling, I realized why this year, my senior year was so different than any other year before.
When you first enter college, your life diverges into two different worlds: the world that you grew up in, the world that is your hometown, your high school friends, your childhood bedroom. And then there is your new world, your new college, your new friends, your new environment and what you choose to fill it with. Obviously for some individuals these worlds may be more intertwined than others, but for many people (especially those of us at Tulane who are so far from home), these worlds might be completely separate. The first couple years of college come with the struggles of adjusting from your past world to your new world, the struggles of finding your place, truly making your new world complete. During this time, I remember holding on to my old world, longing for the times when I would get to return for a few days, knowing my new world was always going to be there for me waiting when I got off the plane at MSY. But this year it’s different. My new world has become my whole world. Being in my college environment is no longer an adjustment, transitional place, or temporary home. When I walk around campus, taking in the beautiful way the sun hits the oak trees in the afternoon, the familiar smell outside of the Boot, the sound of music playing from a random frat house on a Wednesday afternoon, I feel completely at home. When I walk into my house, I am welcomed by four of my best friends and the couch that I feel like I could sit on for days on end. All the things that caused me so much discomfort when starting my college experience have transformed into my favorite parts of college. I have become so used to this world that I almost forget about the world that I came from sometimes; my new world has become my new normal.
I realized that I don’t want to leave my life at college, even for just a few days. I don’t want to enter into a new world, even if it is a familiar world, a world that was once all I knew. And I know the real reason for these feelings: I don’t want to leave my college world because in the back of my mind is that dreaded countdown clock, always reminding me that the end of this world, that has become so comfortable to me, is near. I know when I return home for Thanksgiving this year, the questions at the table will shift from “how is your college roommate?” to “where are you going to live next year?”, from “how are classes going” to “what job do you want to have next year?” The voice in the back of my head is reminding me that this is the last time I will be flying from New Orleans to Seattle for Thanksgiving, reminding me that when I return to Tulane, I will only have a couple short weeks before my second to last semester of college is over.
The real reason for my hesitance when addressing my brother’s question comes from a fear of change. I feel it lurking at every moment, knowing that each day that passes is a day closer to the dreaded G word (graduation…let’s not speak of it again). But, as I sit here now and reflect on this, I feel grateful instead of sad. Grateful to have created another world that feels so much like home, a place filled with my favorite people, favorite places, favorite experiences, etc. Grateful to have a new world that has helped me to grow into the person I want to be. Grateful to have a new world that will always be in my heart even when it becomes an old one.
I know when the day comes, I’ll be ready to say goodbye to the life that has become my world at Tulane. I know there will be a whole new world waiting, ready to become my new normal. But until then, this Thanksgiving I am thankful for MY world and am holding onto it and enjoying it with every ounce of my heart!!