3 years ago1,000+ Views

You get the best of both worlds...literally.

Who am I?
I'm a college kid who lives away from home and when I say it's like living drastically different worlds, I'm not kidding.
I'm from a small town in Ohio just outside of a major city. I'm used to the suburbs: white picket fences, American flags on every door, mowed lawns, sprinkler systems on constantly, neighborhoods with identical homes, similar cars, similar clothing, very homogeneous. I love the outdoors but not camping. I enjoy the hometown stores and local food joints. No one necessarily banters politics because everyone generally thinks the same way. My friends go to church on Sundays. It's a predominantly wealthy area. Everyone knew everyone's business and word got around fast but it was the most exciting thing about a Friday Night Football game to discuss these things. Growing up here was full of discovering who I was yet still completely lost. I seemed to be friends with everyone but today I only stay in touch with a very select few. These were the people who set my foundation of who I was meant to be in college. My friends were like family and then we all moved away to college.
I go to college in Southeastern Ohio at a college Disneyland called Ohio University, the epitome of college atmosphere. It's thousands of people the exact same age as you and we're known for our iconic party persona but it's much more than that. We also sport an incredible journalism and business school with many people also flocking to our nursing program. "OU OH YEAH" is amazing because we're a Bobcat family in the sense that there will always be a familiar face walking around campus even with thousands of students. Here I made my closest friends, the people that I'm still amazed weren't around years sooner. I formed my first major crush on someone here. I joined a fraternity. I met my best friend. I made a few (MANY) mistakes that I only regretted the next morning but still secretly loved it. College is a time of self discovery but this is the place where no one knows where I came from unless I tell them. I get to be more comfortable in my own skin because I don't have to fall into a preconceived stereotype high school labels you. College though still has faint connections as some high school friends went there as well. You know people through other people and I'm not incredibly far from home, just far enough. So some things do follow you back and forth but they are very distinct lives. I'm thriving. But it's also because I got to create the 'Cullen' they know, not the other way around. There are no cliques or generalized stereotypes, it's just people. And that's what makes college so much fun.
Currently I live in Manhattan. The Big Apple is exciting, exhausting, and very stressful but I wouldn't want it any other way. Here I am completely off the grid, and that may confuse some of you reading. In New York, I can be whoever I want to be at any minute of any day and no one in my life will ever know of a change. I always tell my friends from school and home that if I were to shave my head, go on a million dates, join a clown school, and work at a Irish pub on the weekends, they'd never know. Everything that gets back home is through a screen and it can be highly monitored, altered, and modified. I'm not saying that I live this secret life in New York, but I AM saying that being independent means that I can do whatever I want wherever I want without hundreds of followers curiously tracking my every move. When I visited home and school periodically through the past few months, people would rave over my Instagram pictures telling me the depictions they have garnered based off of my pictures and the assumptions were hilarious. Ohioans tend to have a very glamorized view of New York because it's so far away and it's the heart of everything. What they don't realize is the cold, rainy, smelly, loud conditions I face day to day with a high price tag and less than homey apartment. I like that I have taken a stroll through Central Park alone without my friends ever knowing. I like that I can go on dates without everyone blowing up my phone asking how it went. I like that I can go to work, eat a slice of pizza at lunch, and not have to document it on social media. I may be in the most talked about city in the world but I can be just another number here and it's awesome.
No matter if I'm at home in the place that is authentically my roots, or I'm in college taking risks and being a young adult, or I'm in New York finding out who I am, I live multiple lives. It's awesome. It's scary. It's interesting. But all of these homes make me who I am today.
Mix it all together and you know that it's the best of both worlds...
New York City will show you what you need to see. It'll be the city you need it to be, even if you don't know what you need it to be.
I'm a freshman in college right now. Very similar to your above story, because even though it's not that far away from home (same state, different city), it might as well be on the other side of the world! Just the different demographics alone of this college was enough to flood my senses with an entirely new culture, as if I was living in a foriegn country. It's new, big yet closely knit, and I love it!
I had a really similar experience to you. Going from one place to another is hard enough, but then leaving it for something seriously foreign like college, or another city can be downright overwhelming. I really like what you said here about it being the best of both worlds. It's so nice to be able to visit the people you love no matter how far away you become. Mentally, it all comes down to placing yourself in the right headspace. It sounds like you've got that down!