I remember the last few weeks of summer before my freshman year fondly. It was a blur of last minute shopping trips and hasty packing and scouring the internet for advice on how to make my first year of college a better one. I was going to a good college, I had a great boyfriend, and I have all the utilities of the internet to help me be the best me possible. Every list turned out to be the same reiteration of each other, but I was obsessed with reading every single one just to make sure I get through my first year as efficiently and effectively as any scared seventeen-year-old could.
Some Tips for Surviving Freshman Year:
- Go to office hours. This will help you get to know your professors and establish yourself as a student in his class. I wish I listened to this as a freshman, but as someone who is entirely independent and likes to figure out everything for herself… I just never got around to it. Also, my classes were oh-so-inconveniently scheduled so I couldn’t make it to any office hours, even if I wanted to.
- Stay organized. Nothing hurts more than spending hours on a paper and then losing it in the clutter of your desk. Take time to put everything together and put them in their proper place.
- Keep a planner. My freshman year, I didn’t follow this advice and that resulted in a lot of last minute panicked homework sessions. Please learn from my mistakes and get yourself a planner.
- Always bring an umbrella. Unexpected showers that will (1) ruin my makeup and (2) make my hair frizz up? No thank you.
- Break up with your high school significant other. (???)
I remember reading that last piece of advice and spending all day worrying about whether or not they were right. Every article also insisted that I’d miss out on the True College Experience™ and I’ll regret it forever if I waste any more time with my high school boyfriend. And the stereotypical high school relationship is usually really short and immature. What if this was my relationship? What if I was just trying really hard to make it not be like this, but it actually is and I’m too blind to see it?
What if it’s time for me and my boyfriend to break up?
My boyfriend and I never really discussed the whole long distance issue when we selected college. We were only going to be two and a half hours apart, so it wasn’t as terrible as others, but it was still enough that a physically and emotionally dependent person such as myself couldn’t handle. We just generally agreed that we’d have fun dating and then go our separate ways for college.
That summer, I realized I love him. It was cheesy, and the realization came to my right before bed after his nightly text goodnight, but I loved him. And that scared me. Thinking about it was terrifying but with the summer days passing by so quickly, I had no choice but to think about it.
How can I possibly break up with someone I love?
We never broke up, but the first few weeks of my freshman year was marred by that nagging thought that I should have. That everyone else was right: it would be the best for the both of us.
I had this weird thought that he was only staying with me for the convenience of it all. I thought I was holding him back and, after reading countless stories of couples who attempted long distance only to break up by Thanksgiving break, I thought he was holding me back too. I thought my college nights should have been wilder than staying up until three in the morning and eating Chinese food with my friends. I thought it was his fault I wasn’t having the wild college experience everyone so lovingly thinks of. And I thought I was doing the same for him.
What I didn’t realize was that I was lucky enough to be one of those people that found her one true love in high school.
We didn’t date until the latter half of our senior year. It wasn’t even really a full blown relationship until the last month of school. But I was in love.
My boyfriend was there for me during a very grueling senior year. He was there to celebrate all my accomplishments and to console me whenever things didn’t work out. He made me laugh during the stresses of exam season and made boring classes slightly more bearable. He knew me during my period of awkward emotional growth, and never judged me for it. He knew me at a time before college changed me, a time no other guy I meet in college will ever know. He knew me before I grew up for college, and he loved me anyway.
No other guy will ever have the same connection me and my high school boyfriend will have. No other guy will have the same inside jokes we have. No other guy will pass by that high school with fond memories. But people still told me to break up with him
Some people were very supportive of our decision to stay together. The romance of being high school sweethearts was not lost on them, apparently.
But there have been nonbelievers. I remember going to my college infirmary and being asked if I had a special guy in my life. When I told a nurse that my boyfriend goes to a different school, she immediately said he must be cheating on me right now. I remember well-meaning friends telling me that he’s preventing me from a proper college experience. I remember making the decision to break up with him. Because, after all, if all these people are telling me to do it, then it must be the right thing to do, right?
My college experience was never ruined because I wasn’t out looking for boys.
I was never glued to my dorm room to Skype with my boyfriend and I never turned down outings with my friends to talk to him. He never cheated on me and never wanted to either. We grew together, but separately. Our lives, as intertwined as they were, were not codependent. We were both growing throughout our first year in college, and the distance has only brought us closer together.
We’ve been dating for a year and a half as of today, which isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things. But every day is just as good as the last. He’s visiting again in two weeks, and I’m counting down the days.
My experience is my own, of course. In some peoples’ cases, maybe it really is better to leave your high school boyfriend in high school. Maybe you both need to grow apart for a while. Maybe he’s preventing you from growing as a person. Maybe the emotional investment in long distance is just too much. It’s understandable. But if you’re like me and you’re sitting at home frantically trying to get any last minute college advice: you don’t have to take this one to heart. You don’t have to let go of something good.