a lot of people love their college towns and never want to leave. Some people outgrow them. Both are ok. Here’s how I’m dealing with outgrowing mine.
Before I start this article, I need to address a few things. My favorite things to write about are light hearted topics, like recommendations, bucket lists, etc. However, I have also used this space as a sort of journal, or as a way to possibly guide people. Last year I wrote an article that I thought would be helping people, but I came to learn that it did the opposite, and it ended up hurting people I cared about instead. That was never my intention. This article speaks about me outgrowing a place, and I need to disclose that it is not about the people. It is about my own personal growth and development and where I believe I need to be in order to thrive. As I’ve said before to my friends, if I could, I’d carry all the people I hold close to me in a little backpack and just plop them out all over the world wherever I go. So just because I may be speaking badly about a place, that does not mean I no longer love it, because I still do. I just feel that in order to continue growing, I need to be elsewhere. Anyway–for the rest of this journal entry article.
Last semester I did an exchange in Brisbane, Australia. It was the best five months of my life. Within that time, I found myself. For some examples and background information, I haven’t been confident since my junior year of high school. The confidence came back. I’ve had anxiety over exams since I was 12. In Australia, the anxiety was gone. I have always loved the beach, sunshine, nature, and I thrived on any random day I could go for a swim, or go on a hike. It allowed me to fall into my place. What most people do not know is when I was in high school I applied to study there full-time. But due to covid and other less relevant reasons I chose not to attend. I do not think that was a mistake. I have learned and grown so much at Madison as well, and made so many friends I know I will carry with me for the rest of my life. And though some of the friends I made in Australia were full-time, me being a full-time student would not have meant that I would have met them. And I truly do believe that everything happens for a reason, and the universe tells you and guides you to where you need to be.
Last autumn I decided to do this exchange semester because I got back to Madison and I felt stuck. I was in such a slump with no idea how to get out of it. I couldn’t tell back then, but it was because I slowly started outgrowing the place. Last autumn, I tried everything to love Madison. I romanticized it in my head all the time. I did everything to suppress those feelings. And after some time, when I got used to it and continued to ignore the feelings, they did go away. But now I’m back, and the feelings are back and bigger than ever. Now this is such a hard situation. First of all, I feel terrible. I would never want to hurt anyone, and I would never want anyone to think my decision is a reflection on them. Because it isn’t. Again, I love everyone here and I wish I could have everyone with me at all times. Along with that, I deem myself as the person who is always smiling, happy, etc. I get amused with the smallest things. So I don’t want to be negative about anything, even though I need to remember that it is ok to feel negative emotions. They are all a part of life.
I’ve had these feelings and I’ve been feeling them since the end of summer. All of August, especially as move in approached I would feel sick to my stomach when someone mentioned Madison. Now this was partly because I was scared of people not liking me anymore or realizing they were better off without me as their friend. But still. And now that I’m here I’ll find myself randomly being sad. Now this doesn’t happen when I’m going around with my friends, whether that be at a friend’s birthday party, or just doing homework or chatting together. Nor does it happen at work when I’m laughing with my colleagues. It happens alone when I’m left to think. When I’m left to reflect. It leads to me crying at the grocery store because the crisps they have remind me of ones I got for free at O week. It leads to me laying in the grass listening to “Innerbloom” the radio edit version because that was the song my boxing coach would always play during cool downs. It leads to me questioning every decision I’ve made. I know the universe sent me to Australia when it did for many different reasons, some not the ones I originally thought but in the end were even more important. But I’ve been questioning why the universe had me come back. Why wasn’t there an option to transfer? Or extend my program? Or even my flight? This has led to so much reflecting and journaling and even meditating and just asking the universe for signs of what to do. However, I have also taken it upon myself to help myself out as much as I can personally.
I have tried everyday to do something that makes me happy. Whether that be watching the sunset, getting coffee from a cafe, going on a walk, etc. I think my main issue with Madison right now is that everyone is focused on just the campus in the city, which is really claustrophobic to me, as I want to see and explore the world and am not getting the same satisfaction as everyone else. I don’t have a car so it’s not like I can just get up and drive to Chicago for the day or go on an adventure. I’m trying to explore the other parts of Madison, other streets, areas, etc. Anything, anywhere. Now I’m not really sure where this article is going. It’s more so my thoughts on everything. Since everyone always talks about how great and big colleges and college towns are, no one ever talks about not liking it or needing to try extra hard to enjoy it. But sometimes the latter happens to people, and that’s ok. I’m trying hard everyday to see and enjoy this place to its full potential as much as I can. Like currently I’m sitting with my coffee in the grass in front of the capital writing this article. Like that, I’m happy with that, that’s amazing! And I love my friends. So, so much. And I am so glad that I get to see them. And yes, I do miss my friends from Australia. But it’s a flip, because I spent so long missing these people and now it’s the opposite.
Anyway, these were rambly thoughts. I think I’m slowly but surely trying to fall back in love with it. And even if I don’t, I know I still love the place, I always will, I am just currently not in love with it (if that makes any sense at all…). And if anyone is feeling the same way, whether it be because of going abroad or just outgrowing it naturally, there is no need to feel alone.