I have been dubbed, “a conversation waiting to happen.” Honestly, I cannot argue. I will admit my college journey can only be described as untraditional and undeniably bumpy. Allow me to elaborate. Born and raised in Florida, I grew up spending my summers outside, slathering on layers of sunscreen and soaking up the Florida sun. I reached middle school, determined to go to an out-of-state school to experience more of the United States. I never strayed from my twelve-year-old self’s decision. As a result, during my senior year, I applied to schools across the East Coast. Finally, after months of applications and anxiety, I chose to attend Smith College, a small liberal arts women’s college in western Massachusetts, starkly different from my sunny, beachy hometown.
Nevertheless, I left Florida ecstatic to discover snow, apple picking and New England culture.
My big out-of-state move differed from what twelve-year-old me had envisioned. Smith popped the bubble I had unknowingly grown up in. I learned more about the world around me and how to work towards creating inclusive environments for people of all sexual orientations, genders and ethnicities. Smith College made me a better person.
And with as much conviction, I can say I felt the traditional college experience passing me by, which led me to William & Mary.
My decision to transfer surprised even me. It happened over spring break, in Florida. I just had breakfast with my best friend. While driving home, I vividly remember staring at the sky and thinking, “Wow, it has been a long time since I have seen the sun.” But the gray days and long winter did not lead to me submitting a transfer application the following day. I sent the transfer application because I finally admitted to myself that yes, I hadn’t seen the sun in a long time, but I also hadn’t felt happy in a long time either. It definitely surprised my family and friends when I announced I planned on applying to William & Mary without ever expressing any desire to leave Smith. However, they supported my chaotic endeavor, and constantly checked in with me to ask if I had heard anything. In May, I found out I had been accepted. I knew I had to go.
Steeped in tradition, the College of William & Mary sits in Williamsburg, Virginia. Again, I chose to move to a place entirely unfamiliar and different from both Florida and Massachusetts. In August, I started at William & Mary, determined to make this place my home. I moved into a dorm with a random roommate. After an exhausting yet wonderful recruitment process, I joined a sorority and I even ventured to my first college football game. We lost, but I remember just being so excited to sit in the stadium wearing green and gold.
Did it take me a while to realize where I belonged? Absolutely. Did I cause my mother a lot of stress? Undoubtedly. Why did I think I could handle New England winters when I shiver in sixty-degree weather? That remains unclear.
Life gets messy. College gets messy. But sometimes the best things come from the mess.