Sup! It has been a while since I’ve graced you all with my thoughts about growing older, and how that sometimes sucks more than anything. That’s mostly because, toward the end of college spring semester, I thought I’d made peace with my fear of change. I’m less than enthused to announce that I was really wrong.

For you today—as I’m sure you may be gearing up or a new school year or finishing up those summer resolutions, and thus going through your own shit—I have a list of things I’ve sort of grasped and want to share. There were things I thought I knew, but I noticed how delusional I was after coming home. I was trying to see college from the perspective of trying to relive home, or, life as it was before I left for a while. (Spoiler: Jump to number three; you can’t friggin’ do that.)

  1. You can get used to being alone, but it’s hard for that to be taken away, and even harder to cope with how that makes you feel. Pre-college, I was very used to being surrounded by family all the time. I wanted that, mostly. School drained me of who I really was; I never ever gained the confidence to be who I wanted to be in high school. My family made me myself. At college, I’ve started to see who I am, and I’m comfortable showing others, sans-family being physically there. Now, at home, my mom tells me to let her and my dad know when I need to be alone, like it’s obvious that being alone at school has changed me. The knowledge that my family can tell I need alone time makes me both grateful they get me and guilty that I seem like I don’t want to be around them as much. The fact that I actually do need more alone time than usual makes me feel both like I’m becoming my own person and growing away from my family. I’m not sure if any of that is even true.
  2. Life still goes on in your home even when you are away from it. I came home for the summer just recently to find that my brother is becoming a full-grown man child. Also, my mom got rid of a lot of the towels we’d had since my childhood that were so soft and worn. She replaced them with big new ones that are all the same shade of gray–not a bunch of fun-accidentally-bleach-stained colors. I also dropped and shattered a LOTR glass we’d had for so long, and I for some reason did not handle that very well. Why does that all bother me?
  3. Life at home will never, ever be the same after you leave it. My room feels different. The unspoken deal that I feed the cat and my brother feeds the dog is nonexistent now because I wasn’t around to hold up my end. I want to stay in my room more often; I’m more of a homebody thanks to being absent from my room’s comfort for so long. My brother leaves a lot because he’s 17 now and can drive a car that’s his. I had a big breakdown on my bedroom floor with my mom the other night because I could not grasp—no matter how hard I thought about it and told myself it is okay—that I am growing and so is everyone else around me. I physically feel older. I have been sadder than ever before and now know what that feels like, and so I am attached to every happy thing around me more than usual, making me notice change in such a suffocating way. My mom held me while I snotted all over her shirt and my pillow; she told me that everyone going through this phase of their life like me feels this. I told her I hate it. She said, “I know,” and that was the most comfort I’d felt in a long time. I know she means it.

So, these are three things only, but I wanted to show up and say that not everything will heal when you go off to find yourself. A lot of things will start to make more sense, but a lot of things will get worse, especially if change spazzes you out as it does me. I don’t think that should discourage us; though, we all have to leave normalcy someday, and truly…it’s great. You just always have to keep close to you those that remember how it was before you changed, so they can celebrate your growth with you and cry in the middle of your room when you still don’t know who you’re changing into.

Happy Growth to everyone who is just as simultaneously lost and found as I am right now. It’s hard but cool, and I hope you have a lot of ibuprofen. And also laughs.