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Student Blog: Beautiful, Brilliant Change

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Entering College Without Homesickness and the Onset of Loneliness

Student Blog: Beautiful, Brilliant Change

Most college blogs you'll read will have some commentary on homesickness. Missing your family, your old life, your old friends, what was... is all very real. But not for me. And no, I'm not making this a whole, I'm not like other girls, thing. I'm just stating a fact about myself: I do not miss anything from before leaving to study acting at Boston University (BU). In the summer leading up to my first semester, it seemed that the only conversations others wanted to have with me centered around college and expectations. At the core of nearly every conversation I had with peers and family, I was often asked "Will you miss me"? Now, you should know, dear reader, that I do not lie. So, I'd always answer, without hesitation, "No." As simple as that. No, I will not miss my grandma who I spent every other weekend with as a toddler. No, I will not miss my new puppy who we technically got so my mom wouldn't feel lonely once I left, so she technically isn't my dog. No, I will not miss my mom. No, I will not miss my sister. I will not 'miss' anything. And this reigned true on my family's last day in Boston.

Sure, I had your normal tearful goodbye (and by tearful, I mean my mom would not let go of me and hugged me four times before my sister told me to just walk away before our mom could drag me back to the airport) and, sure I cried myself to sleep every single night for a solid week and a half afterward. But I didn't cry because I was missing something. I was crying because of change. Change in scene, change in routine, change in space, change in... well, everything. I view myself as a fairly go with the flow person--probably because I've been so numb to emotions and feelings and allowing myself to actually feel things for so long--but change is something that's always affected me greatly on a mental level. I'm wary of change. I embrace it with set boundaries. This change was especially different regarding energy and the energy I surround myself with.

My energy comes from being around and interacting with people. I am your friendly neighborhood extrovert. I ask everyone I interact with how their day is going because 1) validating other people's humanity is something people have really slacked on, 2) I genuinely want to know how their day is going, and 3) the completely selfish reason that merely interacting with random strangers gives me the largest boost in energy. However, the pandemic has forced me to change how I interact with people I'm familiar with. I've always been a hyper-social butterfly. I float around to different people and groups, finding a safe, temporary spot fairly easily, and then leaving when I see fit. During the pandemic, said groups of people weren't exactly right at my fingertips. My only face to face human interactions other than my mom were my coworkers and the snooty rich white folks who'd patron the lunch/dinner cruise ship I worked at as part of the service staff. And that's only when we weren't on hiatus because of COVID-19. I was secluded, alone in a small house with my introverted and anxious mother, for a year and a half during a global pandemic.

It's safe to say that spending my first few weeks in Boston surrounded by other human-deprived aoe?theatre kidsaoe?and college students in a college town basically 24/7, was overwhelming. While I know how to interact with real live people in theory (I took nonverbal communication, have been working in and practicing theatre for 11 years, have a hyperfixation in human interaction, and write about people and interactions for a reason), I quickly learned how that all crumbles to pieces at your feet in reality. I was confused, sad, somehow lonely in the mess of people that I was slowly becoming drowned by, and began questioning things I thought I knew intrinsically about myself. I yearned (what am I saying, I am still yearning, two months later) for my weekends when I can just stay in my dorm, laying on my bed as the sun shines through my window and watch the city of Boston pass me by while I work on homework. My favorite thing to do is walk for hours around town, do errands, and have the smallest talk with strangers about their days. It's those days, where my roommate is at her family's place, I have no classes, and no one is forcing me to do anything, that I feel the most alive.

That is, until I remember how lonely I am. Sure, the pandemic definitely made it worse, but I cannot deny the fact that when I started working in film and modeling as a seven year old (while competing in gymnastics), I made the naive promise to myself to always put work before any sort of relationships. This then led to me becoming the busiest (and possibly most overworked) performing child 'puppet' you've ever seen who had one friend she kept on forgetting about. It wasn't until I turned 15 that I realized how little autonomy I had over myself, my work, and my life. I was 15 and had never truly lived life. I lived to work so that someday I could do the work that I love and possibly just live. I was beginning to realize that living only to work wasn't necessary and I could still work while simultaneously living a true and exuberant life.

I began reframing my understanding of my life and who I was. This led me to discover new and brilliant things about myself. I enrolled in an early college high school program at a local community college that would lead to me receiving my associates degree when I was 17 and learned so much about art, humans, and life. It was at the start of this early college program where I felt ready to start living the actual friendship part of life. That is, until the pandemic happened. I quickly saw the friendships I was starting to foster at the community college fade into the on-line oblivion. With 1.5 years of on-line school and my prior years of being a working actor and/or competitive gymnast with little to no unstructured social activities with peers, it isn't surprising that I don't really know how to interact with people my age without feeling horribly drained. Don't get me wrong, I have friends and enjoy my time with them. I care very deeply for the people in my performance core cohort at BU, and I hope they can see that. But I still yearn for my time alone, as that is the time I need for self-discovery, artistic exploration, and rest.

Nonetheless, it seems that the only times I choose to be by myself are when my new cohort of friends happen to have the biggest and best gatherings together. I'm then stuck with myself and feelings of loneliness. I had been so comfortable with loneliness before coming to BU, because I had the excuse of work.. But aside from a few hours of work study as a box office associate at an equity theatre on campus, I'm not working so much here. We all have the same classes and classwork. I feel the need to both revert to my old normal but also drain myself with the effort of attempting to find a new normal with the people around me. Or, do I just completely go with the flow of numbness and not experience any of this? Just let it all happen to a numb and unfazed me?

I went into college with one goal: actually allow myself to experience life. I spent so much of my life purposefully halting all feeling and experiences of life (figuratively and literally). I don't want to do that in college. The one thing that comes with that is allowing myself to spend the time and the energy to find that balance. And I have four years to do so. I've only been in Boston for two months. I think I have time. Only more change will come, but I am challenging myself to experience and feel said change in full; beautiful, brilliant change.


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