Alex Budzynski is a Campus News Editor for the Newswire. He is a sophomore public relations major from Fairfax, Va.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself walking through the deepest part of a forest and coming across a cave. You take a step closer to examine it and discover it is darker than pitch-black night, and eerily quiet. A floating feeling in your stomach of equal excitement and nerves radiates across your body like a shockwave. Should you dare to take a step into that obscurity, you risk encountering your greatest fears. You could get lost amidst the winding maze of caverns and find yourself victim to the abundance of dangerous creatures lurking in the shadows. However, this cave that you stand in front of could also be spacious and easy to navigate, even leading to a secret hideaway with luxurious plants and glistening waterfalls.
This uneasy feeling of the unknown is comparable to what it is like saying goodbye to your family when you move into college. For the past 18 years of your life, you have likely lived in a house with a family that is loving and has supported you in your endeavors. All of a sudden you must take a step into the unfamiliar, venturing out on your own, — uncertain as to what challenges might come your way.
I remember being accustomed to a certain way of life, as I am sure is true for most incoming first-year college students. Regardless of the challenges I had faced during the day, I could count on food being available and a comfortable couch on which to rest. I could count on a warm shower and clean clothes to wear. Most of all, I could count on my family members being around me to give me a sense of being in a safe home.
No one told me that when I went to college my definition of home had to change. It did not occur to me until the moment I started driving away from my house that I would no longer be resting my head on the same bed I had for a decade or be coming home to the same family I had been for 18 years. Xavier would be my new home, and I was trading in a spacious house for a cramped dorm.
Change is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is also a human quality that we resist. Like he or she who faces the cave, the unknown is frightening because of the uncertainty that lies on the other side. It is undoubtedly difficult to say goodbye to that which we hold dear. Letting go of a favored toy or an old t-shirt which represent irreplaceable memories is a real challenge of fortitude and maturity. Those of us who have lost loved ones know that attending a funeral means we must say our final goodbye to a person we treasure.
I promise that moving into college is not a definite goodbye, but it can feel equally heartbreaking to hug your parent(s) for the last time before you are permanently on your own. My advice is to let that final hug and those inevitable tears happen when the moment comes (and believe me, it will). But you should also not dwell on these difficult emotions. Take that first step into the cave with confidence and focus on that which lies ahead on your path, not the pain you have just experienced. Xavier made it easy for me to get involved and do what I love so it became a second home very quickly. To say that I never missed home would be a gross understatement, but I also never forgot the journey I was on, and that made the goodbye to my old life a much easier pill to swallow.
College means the beginning of countless incredible things: memories that will last a lifetime, the freedom to do and be who you want and irreplaceable friendships. It is a transformative experience in which you will encounter both the good and the bad. However, it can be easy to forget that college also means the end to the familiar. To all the first-year students: embrace the change and embrace the goodbye to your family — it is a moment unlike any other.