I Realized I Love My Life, Only After Leaving It for College

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College is a fresh start and a new beginning. You have the entire world at your fingertips. Oh yeah, and freedom from high school and parents, old obligations and drawn out relationships. It’s the start of something not only new, but also an experience supposedly better than life as I knew it. So what happens when the transition feels more strained than smooth? When I miss a high school I have been counting down the days to break free from since senior year? What really happens when college may not be my best four years?

“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”—it’s more than just your average Joni Mitchell song lyric. A Los Angeles native, I never realized how lucky I was to grow up in a city full of experiences and adventures. That is, until I left.

I took L.A.’s trendiness for granted, from the new restaurant on every corner to the endless popular concerts and events at my leisurely disposal. I’ll never be able to fully express my inherent love for it, a love I was unconscious about until after my quick departure.

Now, as I have moved on to supposedly bigger and (hopefully) better experiences, I find myself at a loss. People really hype up college. They tell you how college and pure happiness are practically synonymous. Adults rave about the different aspects of college. For example, they believe that college parties are unlike any other and the friends you makes in college end up as your best friends for life. According to them, nothing beats the completely blissful college experience.

However, in the thrill of it all, one thing gets lost in translation: starting over is hard. My introverted persona found it difficult to put myself out there. Why should I make new friends when I already have a tight knit community I love and cherish back home? It seemed impossible to me that any new friendships could develop into the deep ones I longed for and missed wholeheartedly.

I took the much needed time to adjust. Though, in the blink of an eye, I grappled with a newfound reality. It appeared as if everyone had already found their college group with me as the one exception. Everyone around me and even those from back home who were now far away appeared to thrive. I felt alone, especially in the day of social media, where you can easily put out into the world what you want others to see rather than the truth. Looking at Instagram and Facebook definitely did not help my social anxiety. I increasingly doubted if I was ready to embark on this new chapter in my life.

Now, after finding myself situated and the slightest bit more comfortable, I am able to reminisce on the not-so-smooth transition I have recently undergone. I have come to the conclusion that uprooting one’s life, especially a great one, will never be easy. I could never have been fully ready for an unwanted new start, even if it is the “normal” life path society tells me to follow. Now, I can conceptualize that you don’t need to be ready for life’s transitions.

I did not fully understand how much I loved my life: my city, my friends and family, my home (my huge bed!) and even my beat up car until my life drastically changed. It has only been a mere two months since the big move, which I know is not enough time to asses my happiness and new found friendships, or lack thereof. Though, I am now able to pay respect and gratitude to how I grew up. I know I can take with me the knowledge from my friends and family and the inner secrets of Los Angeles into college, to allow me to learn and flourish.

I can use this new found appreciative knowledge of home to become myself again in a completely new environment. In time, I will hopefully find myself able to thrive. Here’s to each day getting better, finding those life long friends, and eventually being able to say these were the best four years of my life.

Los Angeles native, flea market fanatic, addicted to online shopping, and lover of new brunch discoveries. Freshman at UC Santa Cruz studying psychology and navigating my way through the forest.

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