Cali Stella is a sophomore advertising major and writes “Chronically Competent" for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Cali at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was born an Indiana University Hoosier. I grew up in a family of die hard IU alumni and had no intention of breaking the status quo that was my family’s legacy.
In the wise words of Leslie Knope, I went to college with the most valuable American currency: the blind stubborn belief that what I was doing was 100% right. Let me tell you, IU was everything I expected college to be, but there was so much I never saw coming.
For the entire first semester, I thought my struggle was with transitioning to college. It took me my freshman year to understand that my struggle wasn’t with college, it was with expectations.
I was ready to show the world that I was putting myself first, and putting yourself first means putting education first. Putting yourself first means putting your present whims aside to provide for your future self.
In the name of education and education only, I was leaving everything I loved and made me comfortable, and it was applauded. I was expected to leave everybody that made me who I was. My parents, my grandparents and even advertisements told me that education is the most valuable thing in the world, and when something has such value, you make it your No. 1 priority.
So that’s what I did, I went to IU with my dukes up ready to make college my best four years, and I was going to do it all by myself.
For a while I felt like I was doing everything right, based on college standards. Even the mistakes I made were mistakes I was supposed to, because college is a place to make mistakes and learn from them. Every step of the way I was reassured that putting education first was the common thing to do, therefore, the right thing.
Towards my second half of first semester, though, I was facing a serious depression that seemed to be the end of the world. I ran over and over my first months of college wondering what had happened and why I was so unhappy with myself and my surroundings. I had moments that I doubted my strength to get through my current situation, but I kept pushing them further and further down inside me.
I hoped they were measly qualms seeing as I hadn’t even had the chance to settle yet.
But they weren’t. My feelings were right.
I quickly realized I was missing my biggest resource; I was missing my support system, the person that motivated me and showed me I could be loved.
I missed my best friend.
It wasn’t until I met my best friend junior year of high school that for the first time, I was seen as something more than the sum of my transgressions. For the first time I had a respectable relationship in my life, and I learned how to be a good friend and in turn a more patient person. No manipulation, selfishness or hidden agenda.
But I was leaving her. She was going to Ball State over two hours away, and I was hell bent on proving that I wouldn’t be sad just because I didn’t have her anymore.
We were more than best friends, we were sisters.
IU wasn’t going to be my home, it couldn’t be without my best friend. I felt I had traded a healthy friendship to trick myself into thinking I was doing the right thing.
Family members, authority figures and society say, “If you are truly meant to be they’ll be around when you’re done with school, or you need to do what’s best for your future.”
Do we even know what this is really saying?
To me, its saying, “If you make yourself unhappy now, you’ll be happier in the future.”
I signed my present happiness away to my future like it was nothing, like it was easy.
Surviving is not the same as thriving, and going to college alone was my attempt to live a life I could easily explain to others. An attempt to show that my future was more important to me than my best friend.
My future, which hasn’t even happened yet.
My future which, especially today, is not guaranteed.
My future, where I had hoped to put doing the right thing above all else.
My only power in life is what I choose to do now and the actions I can take now. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to call college my home, that I didn’t need to thrive as long as I survived, and that it didn’t matter if I was unhappy now as long as I would be happy in the future.
Now that I am at Ball State University, I feel at home. Even though my best friend is taking the fall semester off, it feels good knowing we’ll be back together soon and that I am truly in the place that is best for me.
I am not ashamed to say I followed by best friend to college. I didn’t follow my best friend specifically, I also followed my heart. I followed the voice in my head that said, I value my education, but I value my happiness more.