being on your own

For most college students, this marks the first time in your life that you are independent. Despite being 22 with a diploma on my wall, I feel like this is the first time in my life I am on my own.

When everyone was getting their college acceptance letters, I wasn’t too sure where I wanted to go. We had only been together about a month, but I followed my boyfriend to a nearby state school because I really didn’t want to start college alone. Many would have said that was a mistake, following a guy I hardly knew. It was not. I tried to drop out after my very first day of class but he talked me out of it. He pushed me to find a major I enjoyed. Eventually, I started coming into my own and didn’t rely on him as much. Even as I was breaking up with him I said, “I wouldn’t have gotten this far without you.”

Junior year was my year of college as a single lady, but even then I wasn’t alone. I  was living in a house with two close friends who also took good care of me. Whenever I needed anything be it a home cooked meal, a glass of wine, or a shoulder to cry on, I had my roommates. I’ll be the first to admit, I was a hot mess that year. I was turning 21 and embracing my inner party girl. My roommates always looked out for me and kept me safe. Unfortunately, they were seniors and when they graduated I moved back home.

My senior year I was commuting over an hour each way to class, but I was still far from alone. I was back in my childhood home with my entire family at an arms length. Plus I had fallen in love that summer, which changes everything. I wasn’t too sure about nursing school. At this point I really just wanted to graduate college and start my life. But the closer I got to graduation, the more I freaked out. The family dynamic was becoming pretty stressful while I was frantically searching for a job. It seemed like my friends were all sprouting rings on their left hand and I was dating an emotionally distant 19 year old. I had two weeks left before graduation, just started working, was trying my best to pass all my finals, and preparing for a final presentation when my last big emotional breakdown happened. My boyfriend happened to stop by in the midst of my tears, he told me he loved me and would call me tomorrow. Of course, I never heard from him again.

Sometimes, when you are struggling to reach the surface, the best thing you can do is hit rock bottom and push yourself back up. Since graduation I have completely rebuilt myself. When the part my ex-boyfriend ordered to fix my car was delivered to my house, I grabbed some tools and fixed the damn thing myself. If someone called out at work, I picked up extra shifts every chance I could. Unless I was at work, I said yes to any friend who wanted to make plans. Maybe that’s why it’s so different for me this time around. I’m putting all my effort into my classes and my job. Although it hasn’t been easy, I have never been happier. I don’t really have any time to worry about why a guy doesn’t text me back or a free moment to have an existential crisis about where my life is headed, which is just another reason to love nursing school!

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