Life feels like a game of dodge ball. I never know from which direction the curve balls come. The usual culprits on the opposing team consist of family needs, work and my dear friend, school. I believe everyone feels the intense pressure life’s responsibilities cause during a drastic change. My decision to come to New York University last summer, to study thousands of miles away from my high school boyfriend, put our relationship to the test and continues to every time I leave home.
However, without the first semester trials with handling the distance, it gets hard for me to imagine having the confidence to make it through other aspects of my life without worry.
My boyfriend and I first began wasting every possible minute with each other during my sophomore year of high school. The awkward hugs and subtle hand grazes in the engineering class where we met seems like a million years ago. Looking back and not smiling while my mind recounts the jokes from my friends about the inevitability of us dating before it became a reality. I would anticipate dates in the park and milkshakes after bad movies every weekend leading up to senior year. When senior year hit, making the decision between enduring a long-distance relationship or taking off to the big dream school put a dent in the ease of my high school love story.
Junior year flew by in a blur.
During senior year, you could find me in the counselor’s office sweating over college essays about defining myself. I know what aspects of my life make me want to get out of bed every morning, but how to accurately define myself in paragraphs remains a mystery. So with this question in mind, the battle over whether I should stay in Atlanta or tough it out in New York miles away from my three-year-long relationship took over my last semester of high school. The New York University flag hung up on my wall still lives there since I put it up the summer of eighth grade. When dreams exist as just dreams, the thrill of pursuing them excites you. Throughout senior year, my dream board hung intimidatingly on my wall above my bed.
Everything on my dream board in my bedroom back home revolves around graduating from my dream school and finding success in the journalism field. The agenda for the dreams on my board does not include a relationship.
Thoughts about my overall future during senior year began altering my perspective on my relationship with my boyfriend.
Deciding how much of a priority to make my high school relationship became even harder when I would ask the people around me for advice. Today, the adults around me still say that no one in their right mind plans to stay with the same person they dated in high school for more than a year. The ease of my relationship throughout high school did little to prepare me for the storm brewing before Decision Day.
After long periods of debate I finally chose the grit of New York City in our school auditorium on National Decision Day. A couple of weeks later at my high school graduation, pursuing a long-distance relationship became certain and before long college life came crashing in hard. Flashbacks of choosing between New York and staying in Atlanta remind me that anything worth pursuing has its fair share of highs and lows.
Now as a freshman in college, putting as much energy as possible into an indefinite career and relationship presents a new challenge every day.
When I took on the task of financing my own education, holding on to a relationship miles away got even harder. Splitting paychecks between chances to see each other and paying my tuition meant a minimum of eating out with friends and subway trips in New York. People tell me how at 18, prioritizing a long-distance relationship wastes time. However, despite periods of awkward conversations after not seeing each other for months, plans for some of the best trips of my life came from continuing to tough it out with my best friend, who I commonly refer to as my boyfriend.
During times in the semester when worry takes the driver’s seat to my emotions because of disagreements with my boyfriend, I use that frustration to throw myself into my schoolwork more. When necessary, focusing more on school and less on worries about issues, like whether we communicate or see each other enough, gets me through some of the hardest academic challenges. However, without my long-distance relationship I know I would never take time out to leave New York. I would worry profusely about falling behind in school and not studying enough. However, with your best friend you just enjoy life in a different way waiting for holiday breaks amid finals to save you from the stress.
When he visits I take time to see parts of New York I would never take the time out for otherwise.
Without him there, the 45-minute train ride to Queens hadn’t seemed worth sacrificing study time for. Google Maps recommends amazing food worth indulging in each time my boyfriend visits and now Queens houses some of my favorite food gems. The fear of falling behind in the semester melts away each time I take breaks like this from school. Adventures in New York and its surrounding areas, that I knew a worrywart like myself would not have gone on otherwise, came at just the right moments. Even if people claim a long distance relationship wastes your time, spend your life however you deem fit outside of anyone else’s rules—if not a lesson, then you have another great story to tell.