Growing Up

I am from Zeeland, MI. A town only 20 minutes away from Hope College. I go home every other weekend to do my laundry for free and can call my parents whenever I need help with anything. In conversations with friends I have been informed that, “I do not have the right to talk about missing home.” While I don’t argue with their points, I do miss home.

I grew up with a close-knit family group; I spent a lot of time with my two sisters. Most weekends, I was with one of my grandparents. All of my cousins are around the same age, so we were good friends. Going to the same school and church programs, it was hard to find time when I wasn’t with my family. I was always guaranteed to have someone to talk to. My parents were a major part of my childhood – coming to every sporting event and recital and pushing my sisters and me to try every opportunity.

In high school, the only thing I looked forward to was getting to drive. It meant I could leave the house whenever I wanted and go anywhere. I could be away from my family and “have my own life.” But, I could always rely on going home at night to a welcoming, warm home. There were no worries, none that involved life at least. School was another story.

Moving to College Life

When I was choosing which college I wanted to go to, my only requirements were that it had to be small and I had to feel welcomed on campus. Hope satisfied both of those requirements and others. Sure, I wasn’t too pleased with how close to my home it was, but that was going to have to work.

Move-in day came up quickly and I was confident that moving out was going to be perfect. I would finally get my own peace and make my own decisions. My parents wouldn’t boss me around all the time.

Yet, once the last box was opened and the contents organized around the small dorm room, a strange sinking feeling crept in. I put it off until I finally hugged my teary-eyed parents goodbye. I lived so close; why was I sad?

I cried the first night in my dorm, calling my mom the following morning in tears, saying how I didn’t like being away from home and wanted to go back. Part of me didn’t believe that I had what it took to be on my own. An 18-year-old expected to “adult.” My mom just chuckled lightly and proceeded to tell me how proud she was, reminding me that I had what it took and I was strong enough.

Moving Forward

Starting a new journey in life where you are expected to be the “grown-up” after years of having guidance is terrifying no matter how close you live. There’s a chance that you are going somewhere where you might feel alone. After all, this isn’t a summer camp where you are going to be home in a couple weeks. College can keep you from your family for a month or two. The people who raised you are no longer right beside you all the time.

“You will never be alone here; there is always someone who will gladly sit and spend time guiding you.

Yet, here at Hope College you aren’t alone. There are people who will guide you through every decision you need to make. I have spent hours with advisors and professors just working through the little things. You will never be alone here; there is always someone who will gladly sit and spend time guiding you.

Published by Emily Leegwater

Class of 2024 Hometown: Zeeland, MI Major: English; Creative Writing emphasis Minor: Studio Art

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