Today was the first day word was actually mentioned about moving out of our house. I've known it's been coming, but today was the first day it's been talked about as something that is actually happening in the foreseeable future. Whoa.
For those of you that need a back story, I've lived with some of my best friends for the last two and a half years in a fantastic house right across the street from campus. For two years, it was me and three of my best girlfriends. Living with Courtney, Meghan, and Brielle is something I truly cherish and wouldn't change the opportunity for anything. Brielle graduated in four years (who does that?) and so two boys moved in, which has been awesome in its own funny and wildly entertaining ways.
In the past, I have freaked, like totally freaked, at any sense of oncoming change. It's Saturday night at 1:15. I worked until 11:30 and decided to not go out. Here I am. My heart is starting to race a little at the thought of leaving my "home" so here I sit, typing on my laptop once again.
To start, I need to distinguish "home" from "home home". This is something we've come up with over the years. Our house, 41 Williamsburg, is "home". "Home" is where our best friends are who have quickly turned into family. "Home" is where we have built memories, laughed together, cried together, fought together. "Home home" is where we go to over the holidays. It feels weird to call it our "parents' house" because that gives the sense that we're established adults who don't go home; they go to their parents' place. No way. Not yet. "Home home" is where Mommy and Daddy are. It's where we grew up. It's comfort. But, "home", "home" is this place.
I'm trying a new thing. As I think about it a little more, my heart beats just a little faster knowing I have to learn how to acknowledge and accept change. We all know I'm not the best at this, but who is? I'm looking at the positives...but really looking at them. Moving out of this place is going to be hard, like really hard. I'm dreading the moment I close the front door for the last time.
So, let's look at the positives. Let's think about all the beautiful, fantastic, hysterical memories we've made from this place. Here we go.
Brielle, remember when you and I were the only ones home getting ready to go out blasting Beyonce? You danced on the kitchen counter.
Remember when we all watched Paranormal Activity and then Nick hid in my closet? For some reason I threw a tuna can at him.
Remember when we did No-Shave November and practically clogged the drain on December 1st?
Remember all the times we used each other's closets as our own?
Remember that time I made you guys "apple cider" and put in chocolate wine?
Remember that time the cops came and we talked to him outside wearing our prom dresses?
And when piggy-backs on New Years' Eve seemed appropriate?
Remember when we thought (or maybe just I did) that there was a cat in our walls so we investigated the attic?
Remember that time we played to "roommate game"?
Remember when we played Buzz and made number 8 something we probably shouldn't have?
Remember that time we made really great togas?
Remember our Christmas card?
Remember all those times that the four of us have somehow managed to accidentally match our outfits?
Remember when we painted our chalkboard wall?
Remember our first "formal"?
Remember when we posed like animals at our Christmas party?
And don't forget our super awesome Christmas tree.
And the day you guys threw me my 21st birthday party? That was the best day of my life.
Remember that time Courtney did this...
And then there's this...
And remember when we thought taking pictures like this was normal?
And you can't forget about Brielle...
And say "hello" to Joho...
We would even advertise "41" anywhere we could...
Enough for now. I think you get the picture. Over the years, we've gained quite a few memories. Sometimes I wish I could go back and re-live it all over again. Other times I just remind myself how thankful I am to have these memories with such incredible people. The last two and a half years have gone faster than I could have ever imagined and the idea of leaving in only a little over a month from now kind of freaks the crap out of me. It will happen. Days will pass and so will weeks. The day will come when I close the door for the last time, but I will not be closing the door on my "home", my family, my memories.
Take a look at yourself now. Compare that self to yourself five years ago. Hopefully, some things have changed.
They say if you leave college the same way you went in, you did something wrong.
This concept shouldn't stop with college, though. Every day, we are learning, growing, changing. We learn everything from dealing with spilled milk to dealing with the death of a loved one. Where ever this learning occurs does not matter; what matters is that we are learning.
Thinking about my 18 year old self seems like both forever ago and just yesterday. But, when I think about everything that's happened in those five years, it is quite a handful. Yeah, I've always been a happy-go-lucky girl who has great friends and plays softball, but I have definitely grown up. Five years ago, the thought of going away to school was slightly terrifying. Now, I'm considering graduate school even further away. Five years ago, I could confidently navigate myself around a 20 mile radius in North Jersey. Now, I'm mastering the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway (though I still get lost sometimes). Five years ago, I was blissfully unaware of the diversity that comes from meeting new people and going new places. Now, the people and places that have come into my life have influenced me and inspired me to be who I am today.
So maybe now, I'm able to cut the cord from Mommy and Daddy, drive up and down the good old state of New Jersey, and have diversity in my back pocket. But that's only the surface.
I invite (and encourage) you to think about how you got to be who you are today. Hopefully, the reasons are mostly good. Some are bound to be bad, and that's okay.
Think about the people that make you happy day after day. Keep them around.
Think about the places that inspire you to travel and learn. Go there again and try new places too.
Think about the days you inspired someone else. Do it again. And again. And again.
Think about it all.
Be thankful for these experiences. They've shaped you into being "you".
Five years may seem like a long time. But when you're not thinking about it as a matter of time, but as a matter of experiences, it puts it into a whole different perspective.
On Friday, the Rec Center staff was lucky enough to have Shaun T (Insanity and Hip Hop Abs fitness guy) come talk to us. He's a Rowan Alum, and actually worked at the Rec Center a number of years ago. The professional staff here has kept a great relationship with him and they brought him in just a few days ago! What he said was all very interesting and it comes down to three main points. If you weren't at his presention, do it. Seriously.
1. Define 5 things you're AMAZING at. Like amazing. It could be anything. Are you a good listener? Good friend? Great dancer? Whatever. It was kind of hard for some people to think of these five things. Really, no one's actually asked a question like this before. Write it down.
2. Think of 3 things that makes you excited to wake up. Again, it could be anything. And it can be simple. For him, Shaun loves waking up to his husband kissing him on his forehead. Write it down.
3. What do you WANT? Shaun introduced the idea of "selfish" being a GOOD word. Being selfish is actually important because "you are the nucleus of your whole world" and if YOU are not selfish, YOU will not be happy. SO, what do you WANT? Write it down.
Now, look at your five amazing things, the three things that make you wake up, and what you want. Do they all relate? By this, he means to ask if they all coincide and work together to make you happy.
This activity wasn't necessarily easy for me. First of all, it is definitely kind of weird to write down five things I'm amazing at because I almost feel like I'm bragging. Then, it weird to think of three things that make me excited to get up. People, me included, sometimes get stuck in the daily grind of life. Sometimes it just happens. But Shaun's point was to remember what makes you happy to be awake. Lastly, it was strange to think of what I want in such a broad term. I want to be a teacher. I want to have a family. I want to get married. But what SPECIFICALLY do I want? And not only that, how do I write it down in a short sentence that makes sense? Even after writing down what I want, "I want to be a role model and make others happy", I still feel like it could use some work.
Ultimately, it's hard to define yourself or your life in three short answers. But, what Shaun T explained is that they all need to be intertwined. One leads to the other, which leads to the other.
College teaches you a lot. Yeah, I go to classes and yeah, I learn from those classes. But, the things I learned OUTSIDE of the classroom is more than anything I could have imagined.
1. Make yourself comfortably uncomfortable. This could be applied to almost everything. Step outside of your comfort zone. Go talk to someone. Or maybe just smile at them. Maybe this person wanted to talk to you, but they were just too nervous to do so. You never know what doors this could open for you.
2. Buy a planner and fill it up. I know this sounds like the headline of a freshmen orientation brochure, but it's so true on so many levels. On the most literal level, it keeps you organized. Organization is absolutely key in college and in life. On the next level, making yourself busy each day teaches you tons. Time management is a skill many people do not have, but is something that is SO crucial. Master it.
3. Work Hard, Play Hard. Go to class. Duh. Go to work. Duh. Do homework, go to meetings, blah blah blah. BUT - HAVE FUN! Spend time with friends. Although college is predominantly about getting a degree, some of the people you meet in college are going to be in your life forever. I've met my bridesmaids in college, and if I didn't purposefully make time to spend with them, I would be walking down an aisle with no girls in cheesy dresses next to me. Laugh with your friends. Go out with them. Create memories.
4. Sleep. At night. Refer to #2. You'll need it. Stay away from naps. Typically, you'll wake up sleepy and confused thinking it's 6am, not knowing what day it is.
5. Say "YES". Some of the most beneficial things I'm involved in at Rowan are the things I had NO idea what they were. Example - my graduate school thing. If I didn't blindly go into this organization, I would not be going to grad school. Say "yes" when you're unsure, when you think you might not have enough time, when you're nervous. You won't regret it.
6. Say "NO". Sometimes, we need to learn when to say "no" too. This is actually something I'm STILL, as an almost-23-year-old, working on. Although helping people is awesome and getting involved is important, don't completely overload yourself.
7. Find an outlet. This is something else I'm still working on. Stress happens. People get overwhelmed. It's natural. What's important is to find a way to deal with that stress. Sometimes, it might unfortunately mean crying on my boyfriend's shoulder as I pathetically utter words he can barely understand. I'm trying to steer away from doing this. His shirts get wet and booger-y. It's gross. I'm learning that writing is actually very helpful. Or working out. Maybe your outlet for stress isn't writing or exercise. Whatever it is, find it, and use it.
8. Treat yourself. You deserve it. If this means treating yourself to an ice cream cone on the way out of the Cafe, do it. Maybe it's just having a relaxing night in. A bath. A manicure. A new outfit.
9. Call your parents. My mom always tells me that I'm always allowed to complain and brag to them. Take full advantage of it. You can't complain and brag to most people; they'll stop talking to you. On top of the complaining and bragging, make sure you also THANK them. They're part of the reason why you're where you are right now. They deserve to know how grateful you are for them.
10. Remember your family. My family, for example, is all over the US. I have people in Jersey, but a lot are in Colorado, Florida, and Nevada. We don't see each other a lot, so remember to call them to say "hi". Family is forever. On that note, family doesn't have to be blood. In my case, family is also my roommates, my co-workers, and my team. I'm blessed to have this many people that I love. Whoever your "family" is, remember to love them.