Rachel is an aspiring writer from Northern Virginia. She enjoys telling and writing stories, singing, and running.
Exams were imminent. Campus was hushed in a collective understanding of the monstrosity of finals. What were even better understood were the final nightly hoorahs after seemingly ceaseless studying. The hallways of the dorms were bustling with energy; a special kind: one tainted with nostalgia. “Leave your rooms as they were before you lived there” the RA’s demanded as my friends scribbled their names in discrete places around their rooms, being oddly certain that future freshman would care that ” ‘April’ or ‘Carly’ was here.” Unused cleaning supplies and notebooks filled the dumpsters, and the campus began to look a lot more like a facility and a lot less like home.
“I’ll see you in three months” and “Promise me you’ll visit!” echoed throughout as everyone drove home to tearful reunions, petty summer jobs and more restrictions. Whatever happened to the lazy dog days of summer? To some, returning home was a blessing; their once dire need for complete independence suddenly fading away like a silly, juvenile dream. To others, it was scorned.
I had found solace in my autonomy. What I discovered was that I wanted parents, not puppeteers. For me to pursue any sort of endeavor, I needed to unclutter every barking voice and create a new one; one without pretentiousness or a will to solely please others. I needed to grow up.
Our parents raise us to become someone. Who we become is up to us. My first year away at college, I learned just that. Independence was redefined. It was no longer merely a means of escape. It was every good decision I made. It was deciding to stay in to study before an exam, or trying not to be too phased by the sex, drugs, and alcohol that parade through our every street, begging for us to join in. In a world not so far from the infamous “real world,” I had passed my first test.