Five hundred and sixty miles.
Nine hours in a car.
Two hours on a plane.
One phone call.
These are just a couple of many ways to measure the distance between where I am now and where I was just last year. I spent grades six through 12 building a life and investing in a community in Canton, Mich., when I decided to uproot myself and go off to college in Nashville, Tenn.
Adjusting to this new start has definitely been a challenge, but in the best way possible. In some ways, this challenge is exactly why I was drawn here. I miss my family always. However, this distance has allowed me to have both a strong foundation and freedom to fly on my own.
I just watched the movie Sweet Home Alabama again with family over Christmas break, and something one of the characters said caught my ear. Jake, estranged husband to a runaway wife who left Alabama years before to reinvent her life in New York, reassures her:
“Since when does it have to be one or the other? You can have roots and wings.”
People often ask me why I chose Lipscomb and why I chose to travel so far from home for an education, and I have never been able to offer a fully truthful answer. I usually give them bits of the truth: that I love Nashville, love country music, love the South, et cetera.
But the real truth is that I love Michigan and the North just as much, and I can love country music from anywhere. I don’t even hate cold weather or snow.
The real truth is this: when I chose to come to college in Nashville, I was not trying to get away from anyone or anything, I was running toward new experiences. I already had strong roots. I wanted wings.
I am now free to revel in small, everyday risks without constantly needing my parents’ approval. I dyed my hair. I danced with strangers. I went skydiving.
My friends in Michigan have started calling me “Miley Cyrus.” I let them because it’s funny, but there is something to be said about the significant difference between suddenly going crazy for attention and progressively being trusted to live life and be adventurous.
Since moving here, I have been able to own my daring streak for myself right along with the responsibility I was taught growing up. I’m building a new home, a new comfort zone even, while still appreciating and incorporating the old one.
So why did I choose to put 560 miles between myself and the people and place I know best? Not to escape, but to experience; to have both roots and wings.
I realize that I’m not reinventing the wheel here and many other students are in my same position. Where did you choose to go off to when you left home for the first time? What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done? Did the risk pay off in the end? Comment with your story!