I don’t want to go to college.

I am a high school senior, and I am graduating, and I do not want to do this. Throughout all of my school career, I have looked forward to the spring day when I would walk down the aisle of the church wearing a floor-length white dress and receive my diploma. I have watched with jealousy as seniors moved far away from here to colleges I had never heard of.

And in the beginning of the year, I was just as excited. The closest college I applied to is an eight-hour drive away. I did not want to attend a school with any of my friends, or even anybody I know. I wanted a big school, extremely anti-Southern, filled with people I don’t know and cultures I’ve never experienced. I wanted something distant and different and new. Something exciting.

But something about applying to multiple places meant that I never actually imagined attending any of them. Logically, I knew that in the fall I would move away. I don’t think I ever really understood that, though. College was just as far away as it had always been – the only difference was that I just had a dozen possibilities, rather than thousands.

But then I heard back, and then I chose the most different option, and now I’m graduating, and college doesn’t seem far away anymore. It is far away. In a few months, I will be moving roughly 2,000 miles away from this place I’ve lived for eighteen years. I will be leaving my friends and my school and my house and my home. And the closer August 15 comes, the more I think that I can’t do this.

At one of the (many) graduation-type events hosted at my Southern school that requires we graduate wearing floor-length white dresses, our two college counselors called everyone’s name in my grade and announced where they are going to college. And everyone is going somewhere.

Change is inevitable. Sooner or later, I will have to leave. I don’t even want to stay – I’m just afraid to go somewhere new, where I will then have to re-establish myself as a cool and hilarious genius, as I’m known here. I will have to find new people and new places and a new home. And that isn’t as exciting as it once was. But everyone has to do it.

Change will happen to us, whether we want it to or not. But I think it’s helpful to remember that we are not alone. When I leave home, sixty-four of my friends will too. When I struggle to adjust to a completely new environment, they will too. When I miss Memphis and my house and my pets, they will too. I am not alone. You are not alone. Maybe your change isn’t physically moving away, maybe you don’t have sixty-four other people to feel it with you, but no matter what it is, somebody else is having a hard time with it too.

And so, I am going to graduate. And I am going to move 2,000 miles away. But until then, I am going to spend time with my friends before they leave too and I am going to watch so many movies and I am going to try to be less afraid. Because sooner or later, this has to happen. And I am not alone.