I believe I need my family–but I had to move over a thousand miles away to figure that out.
Two years ago, I was living at home.
In a family of five, there were always plenty of surprises to shake up my day.
I don’t like surprises.
I thought My life should have been the same as every other college age girl, living in dorms or apartments with other girls their own age, taking lots of hard classes, and spending their free time on sports teams and string quartets.
Family was for babies and people with wedding rings on their fingers. I was single and dreaming of great things.
So, at 19, I left for College in Sioux Center, Iowa. For a girl from the south who had lived in the suburbs all her life, it was hard to fit into the Dutch farming community. But, I worked hard to make friends; and I had some fun……catching bugs in soybean fields for plant science class. I also liked drinking tea with my Korean friends.
They had a great sense of humor. And, like me, they didn’t quite fit in.
But, at the end of the day, when I walked into my tiny dorm room and looked around, there was no family–no family movie nights or home cooked meals to look forward to. There was no little sister in the bed across from me to make me laugh till I couldn’t breathe.
I had the friends; I had the extracurricular activities; I even had the “independence” that came with campus life–but I was lonely.
That Thanksgiving, I stayed with a friend of mine from Iowa. She owned goats.
At her house, I was introduced to everything from goat milk to goat ice cream. Her family ate meals together and played board games and made each other laugh–just like my family. For them, family meant something good. It was the essence of life.
I suddenly realized how much I was connected to my own family. Trying to rip myself away from them didn’t show any maturity on my part. The mature thing was to embrace them.
So I came back.
Today I know that my family is the strongest support network, the wisest counselors, and the truest friends I could have. I have grown so much by living with them.
I’m still going to college–just down the street from my house– and I still have great friends, but I have the best of both worlds.
Now I don’t mind so much sharing a tiny bedroom with my twelve year old sister. We have a lot more in common than I thought. I don’t mind teaching my brother how to play tennis, or how to make Tofu Pad Thai for lunch. I even enjoy those daily surprises I can’t get if I live in a dorm room.
I believe I need my family.
And what’s more, they need me too.
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