With the school year coming to an end in just two weeks, I have taken a lot of time recently to reflect on the past ten months. Since moving away from home, I have learned so much about myself that I hadn’t noticed in the past and have changed a lot.
One of the biggest realizations that I’ve come to recently is how your environment determines so much of who you are as a person, and how it is largely due to the people that surround you. I hadn’t realized just how much this was true until I came to college.
When you grow up in the same town surrounded by the same people, everything about your environment lets you be comfortable. Naturally, you fall into a routine with school, friends, and home. You know what your place is and you usually know how each day will look. You may face challenges in your life as you grow older and earn more responsibilities, but the environment remains constant. It’s familiar, and for many people that is associated with a level of content.
In high school, I thought of myself as relatively reserved and shy, often keeping to myself and not opening up to new people very easily. I was a homebody and liked to stay inside my bubble of a comfort zone. I never attended many school events and would often opt to stay in for a night instead of going out, and surrounded myself with people who seemed to feel the same.
But near the end of high school, I was itching for something new. Even though it scared me, I knew that I wanted to get out of my bubble.
Because the shift in environment was drastic, the changes I underwent were largely due to the new experiences I was having and sharing with other people. By meeting so many different kinds of people during college, I’ve had the freedom to be whoever I want. It is clear to me that the meaningful friendships and relationships that I’ve cultivated since coming to college have had a huge impact on my life. I have made friends that I have been able to open up to and connect with in ways I had never experienced prior to college. And as a result I’ve learned a lot about who I am and what really drives me forward, and how to be be confident in myself as a person with dreams and aspirations.
For example, I have learned that I love to be spontaneous and make decisions on the spot, even though for most of my life I thought I was a meticulous planner who only felt comfortable planning everything in advance. I have learned that I love to be a goof, even though for most of my life I thought I should put on the front of being composed all the time. These characteristics seemed small and intangible, but now I realize that they’ve affected me a lot.
Being thrown into a new place with so many different people shows you who you are or who you want to be by challenging you, and then showing how you deal with those unexpected difficulties in your life. It’s really given me the opportunity to embrace those insights. I love my hometown and I wouldn’t change anything about it, but going to college and being exposed to a new environment has opened my eyes.