Ah, summer, a time to rest, reconnect, and relax – right? The “go-go-go” of college life screeches to a halt, and the sprawling pages of planners turn into beautiful emptiness. Although, as much as we crave a break, it can be a devastating blow to a well-established routine, allowing feelings of inadequacy, purposelessness, and utter confusion to sink in.
For me, I discovered that coming home for the summer was a reality check from a reality that was no longer my own. Upon returning home after completing my freshman year, I felt like a fish out of water. I arrived, equipped with new perspectives, new goals, new friends — even a new appearance. I had grown so accustomed to each of these “new” things in my not-so-new environment that I hadn’t even realized how foreign they were — until I got home. Home confronted me with a distorted mirror of my past: a twin-size bed that used to be so comfy, close friends who weren’t so close anymore, clothes I just couldn’t wear anymore, a fridge covered with accolades for a version of me that no longer exists.
Initially unaware of the causes of my discomfort and an inability to adjust to my inner turmoil, I lashed out and kept to myself. Emotions surged as I regressed into my 16-year-old headspace, and I felt trapped. I felt too far from friends I’d spent every day with, and too close for comfort to people I no longer wanted in my life. I felt a mounting pressure to present the best possible version of myself to friends and family I hadn’t seen in months, while not feeling remotely like myself at all. Things I longed to rejoin for their familiarity made me feel even more outcasted when I realized how much both they and I had changed. I felt so uncomfortable being in a place I was supposed to love when I was feeling the opposite.
Then, I remembered something. I felt uncomfortable when I got to school, the place where I found new interests, new friends, new ideas, a new me — and initially I wanted to go back home! I remember feeling so uneasy, as I despised the unknown place that I was supposed to immediately love.
Within the spiraling of coming home came the realization that I’ve done something special, something remarkable – I was able to create a home for myself, one within myself. Recalibrating to home, I’ve once again found comfort in my twin-size bed and decorated it with throw pillows from college (though it is still on the small side), I’ve reconnected with old friends while still keeping in touch with the new ones, I bought new clothes to pair with my tried-and-true favorites, and I’ve even gotten a few more accolades under my belt to display on the fridge (next to the ones already there, of course).
It can be discombobulating to return to a place so familiar yet ever-changing. As summer has gone on, it’s gotten easier, but I’m still learning how to deal with the uncomfortable state of being stranded on this temporary island of the past. I’m beginning to find my roots again by doing the things that keep me sane, the things that keep me healthy, and the things I love. But if I’ve learned anything from myself this summer, it’s that discomfort is an opportunity — and I hope you find one in your discomfort this summer, too.