Identity

29 Days: Reflections on Leaving

By September 11, 2019 No Comments

Allison Higgins, 18, Writer for #DearAdultWorld

Field trips to the University of Arkansas and day camps situated in the Bell Engineering Center seemed to lace themselves throughout my childhood. But as these trips symbolized a high standard in education to me, I had no desire to spend my colligate years there. My rationale changed from year to year, but my gut still held tightly to the idea that this was not my goal. I
was steadfast on the idea that if I were going to go to college, it was NOT going to be the University of Arkansas.

Look Razorbacks, don’t attack me for not wanting to enter your lair. It’s genuinely not you; it’s me. I am grateful for the opportunities that have been provided for me and would not have found my major without my experiences interacting with the school. However, I can’t deny the fact that staying was never a highly considered option in the admissions process, as the only way I felt I could grow was to leave.

The admissions process consisted of substantial research regarding three simple principles: Finances, Prestige in my field, and Attainability. From there, I applied to twelve schools, just hoping to get into anywhere. I ended up getting into eight, from my 612 miles away dream school to my 12 miles away settle school. Due to financial constraints, I didn’t get to visit most of these schools. But after several less-than-ideal financial packages, this wasn’t entirely an issue, as many schools eliminated themselves.

By May, I settled for the University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign. While I hadn’t visited, at the end of the day it was vastly cheaper to attend this school amongst others, with admiral prestige in my field. A natural choice, and a cool 512 miles away. I’m still happy with
this decision, that of which I legally confirmed in the back of Mrs. Pomeroy’s IB Visual Arts Class.

As of writing this, I have approximately 29 days until my move-in date. Despite ignoring the distance of each school when applying and deciding, despite wanting to claw my way far from the clutches of the University of Arkansas, I am vexed by the idea of leaving.

I’ve built my family here. My friends, my support system, my crew, my love, all of it, is all that I hold dear. To let all that go is something that hurts to think about. Ultimately, I can socially thrive in an environment that I am familiar with. I know I can learn to survive and eventually thrive in one that I am not. But my concerns aren’t necessarily regarding if I can swim in a new pond or not, it’s the pools I leave behind.

The industrial city in the northwest corner of Arkansas has a distinguished charm to it. Cultures mixed seamlessly, hospitality that follows, familiar faces, all merge for an unforgettable home town. People, in particular, seem to stick with me. Before, when I felt as though this town had no fruit to bear for me, I felt as though I was constantly ready to leave. Adventure was always waiting out there, just not here. But as soon as I allowed people to come close, I didn’t realize that my heartstrings would be anchored within them. Being young and unattached, I never understood why people stayed, but the second I grew with the people I loved, I realized why one may never want to leave.

Now, 29 days away, this has set in, and time’s arrow seems to march just a little too fast. I’m obsessed. If each second, minute, hour, day, and week isn’t spent in a productive manner, I am left overwhelmingly guilty. Work, I’m okay with; For 40 hours a week, I can gain some funds to throw towards student loans and dorm room essentials. Spending time with my friends and the people I love is even more valuable to me. But I just can’t seem to sit at home; I don’t want to make time for myself, I want to make memories before I can’t anymore.

But with or without me, time will flow. People will continue to live and thrive back home, making memories without me. And although my tribe won’t exactly be an arms-length away, we have phones, the internet, snail mail and beyond. While I may be gone, that doesn’t mean I am erased from the lives of the people around me. I’m excited to make new connections,
gain new experiences, and learn new skills. But until then, I relish the time before I go.

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