I have been fantasizing about college since I was in middle school. Back then, I thought I would go to school for creative writing at a prestigious university on a full scholarship. At 17, I graduated from high school. At 18, I started my freshman year as a journalism major at Husson University in Bangor, Maine. I was a mere three hours away from home, but it had all the freedom I could wish for.
Until I started to get homesick.
My first full day at school, I walked by myself around campus to make sure I knew where my classes were. I also ate breakfast and lunch by myself. Any free time I had was dedicated to organizing my classes. At dinner that night, another freshman sat with me. She was my first friend.
But I rarely saw my new friend once classes started. I was shy and dedicated to my studies. As I started to relax and become familiar with my surroundings, I found myself making more friends.
When my long-distance boyfriend broke up with me, I suddenly felt very homesick. I wanted my best friends, who were like siblings to me. I wanted to lay on my bed and cuddle with my cat. I wanted to play a board game and eat macaroni and cheese with my little sister. I even wanted to go back to my job.
Fall break soon arrived, so I went home for five days. After returning to school, I still felt homesick, but it wasn’t so severe. I finally settled into a group—the gamers—and really enjoyed my studies. My dating life was taking off, too. So when winter break came around, I was sad to leave my friends for an entire month. But I was also happy to go home and see my family and friends.
A week before I was scheduled to start my second semester, I checked my online bill to make absolutely sure I was caught up. To my surprise, I wasn’t cleared for second semester. There was nothing I could do about it, even though the school had told me I was cleared in November. The day I was supposed to go back, my friend Lucas* took me up to school, and we cleared my dorm.
In February, I moved into my own apartment. I applied to Southern New Hampshire University as an English and Creative Writing major, and was accepted. In April, near the end of my first online term with SNHU, Lucas moved in with me. We soon began dating. However, three weeks into it, my apartment building was condemned and we were forced into motels and, eventually, my mother’s driveway.
Now Lucas and I are living in a mobile home that is under heavy renovation. We are doing all of the labor ourselves, and the lodge that owns the building is shelling out $2,500 for the materials. When we moved in, I had just started my third term at SNHU. I’m struggling to keep up with my classes because we have no Internet, which is crucial for my schooling.
This is not where I imagined myself at 19. If I was still attending Husson, I would be getting ready to start my sophomore year as a journalism and radio broadcasting double major. I would be living off campus in an apartment with a friend. My English professor would be teaching me to drive. I would be cooking hamburgers and making chicken strip sandwiches for my classmates during the evenings.
Instead, I’m writing a budget for a two-income family and contemplating marriage. I’m taking two eight-week courses at a time. In a few weeks, I will be walking into an office job I never imagined having. My mom no longer pays my phone bill. In October, I’ll take my driving exam.
I don’t regret leaving Husson, though. My life may not be the traditional college life, but it’s my life. Instead of waking up at 6 in the morning to go to class, I’m waking up to go to a job I’m going to love. Staying up late doesn’t always mean lots of homework or partying with friends. It might mean I’m watching a movie and eating junk food with Lucas.
The best thing to come out of this is Lucas. If I hadn’t left Husson, he never would have moved in with me. If he never moved in with me, we probably never would have started dating. And even though I know it would be hard getting married very young, I still feel like he’s the right choice.
So if your life seems to “fall off the tracks”, take a deep breath and step back. You never really know what could happen. Look at me. I went from being an honor student at a private university to taking online classes and living with my boyfriend in a trailer park. But I don’t regret it. I love my life. Every minute of it.
Love your life. Live it fast. You never know what’s around the corner, so make today count. It’s all worth it in the end. Someday you’ll have the money or house you want. You’ll have the children you spent years dreaming of. Maybe it’ll come sooner rather than later. Just know that you will never be prepared.
*Names changed to protect identity
This article was written by Maryssa Gordon, a writer for dusk magazine.