The Summer I Was Not Expecting

I was ready for summer to end within the first month of leaving Oswego. I love my family and my friends, so, I’ll admit, home isn’t all bad. But after these 3 months, I can say with confidence that there is nothing holding me in my hometown. It has, truly, been a summer of learning, growth, and some tears.

The summer kicked off with the harsh realization that my high school friends and I did grow apart a bit. I was expecting to go home and spend my days hanging out with my girls, especially since our visits throughout the spring semester showed no sign of change, but they had grown closer with each other, leaving me on the outside. I tried to relate to them and inch my way back into the group, but soon realized that I left our hangouts feeling more defeated than it was worth. I struggled with this for a while. I was coming to accept that I was losing people I never imagined my life without; the people I’ve loved since elementary school, and have been through it all with, no longer needed me. We just didn’t benefit each other anymore, I guess. 

However, towards the very end of the summer, things started to get better between some of us.  I still just don’t know what to make of the situation. I never addressed it and I don’t even know if they have any idea that I’ve been feeling this way. I felt too embarrassed to bring it up and just physically did not have the energy to beg to feel important and included. I moved back to school without saying goodbye to the people I shared the most tearful and important goodbyes with just a year ago. I feel guilty and extremely weird about it, but I just really don’t know what to do at this point.

Another annoyance of the summer had to do with my health. I had so many minor health issues (I’m thankful that it was nothing serious, of course), including Mono and strep at the same time.  In addition to a few other illnesses and viruses, I rarely ever felt strong or energized. This led me to slack at the gym — a lot. I have been passionate about working out for over a year, but since I had Mono and started slacking, it has been nearly impossible to find the motivation to put into a good workout. I fell out of love with fitness and I just haven’t been able to feel like myself since. Of course, this has led to a downward spiral of laziness, unhappiness, and discomfort.  I am so looking forward to getting back on track this semester, and I am already on a good path.

Whenever I am in my hometown I just feel out of place and it has been so hard to cope with over the past year. I genuinely struggle to feel happy and like I am growing there. I remember feeling this way for the second half of high school and I can see now that I was a different person then. I was completely unaware of who I was, and who I could be in an environment that benefitted me and challenged me. I am so proud of who I have become since moving to Oswego freshman year, and it was difficult to see my happiness, growth, and mental health regress over the summer. Plain and simple, I don’t feel good there and it sucks feeling stuck, especially after I’ve tasted the real world.  

I feel guilty admitting this because my family does everything for me, and I don’t want them to take it personally. I’d love to see them every day, just not necessarily at home, or at least not for such a long period of time.

That being said, this summer has had its perks.

Firstly, I got a new job that was completely different than anything I’ve done before, and it paid a lot better, too. I was the youngest person working in the office by at least 20 years and that was exactly the work environment I never knew I needed. I felt appreciated and valued every single day and it was a major confidence booster. All my coworkers showed a genuine interest in my life, and I just feel like I need to take a moment to appreciate such healthy work relationships.  

Like most people, I learned to be comfortable alone throughout my first year away at college. Of course, that comfort has only grown this summer, despite the loneliness not necessarily being my choice, but, hey, growth is growth. I have dedicated so much more time to reading and writing and even took myself on a few Starbucks dates. I’ve learned not only to be productive when I’m alone but also to feel safe and content by myself out in public. For me, running into the mall and ordering food in restaurants alone are victories. Recently, I have also discovered that I can have genuine fun by myself when everyone around me seems to be bummed out. I have learned to separate myself from miserable people and make the most out of every situation. Again, this would normally be so out of character for me.

Lastly, in a way, being away from my boyfriend has been a perk this summer. Our relationship is still relatively new and at this point, most of it has been spent being long distance.  This was great because we managed to plan trips to see each other every two weeks or so, and I always had something to look forward to. Time goes by surprisingly fast when you are constantly counting down to something. The distance has also been beneficial in that we have both had time to pursue our own hobbies and “find ourselves,” as corny as that is. I think we have avoided toxic codependency because of this. We had just enough time to be alone and make sure we’re okay being alone before we would come together again. Having to separate very early in our relationship has also helped us develop healthy communication skills. This was never a problem area for us, but I still think the distance pushed us and encouraged us to go that extra mile for each other every day. I don’t know how I would’ve made it through the summer without our laughs.