I came to college around a time when I felt I needed my own space. I wanted space in the sense of physical space (after living in the living room at home for most of my life, a room to make my own sounded pretty fantastic) and space to myself, space to learn more about myself, to grow in different directions with new experiences and friendships. I was excited by the promise of freedom.

I remember the feeling of guilt that followed me as I walked towards my dorm after saying goodbye to my mother. While she tried extremely hard to pretend that she was not overwhelmed with emotion upon leaving her baby in a strange, new place, I was joyous and still basking in the promise of freedom, happiness, and adventure of the next few years. I understood that my move was especially difficult for my mother, not just because I am her “baby,” but because I am the first of four boys to leave home to go to a four-year institution. No one in my family has ever left to live further than a few blocks away from home.

As I sit here and write two years after my initial move, I cannot help but feel like something is missing in my life after being away from my family for so long so frequently. I spent a total of about four weeks at home this summer, and because these four weeks were divided into four smaller chunks, it felt much shorter. Here I am thinking I am ready to be away from my family, and just tonight, the distance and time away from them comes crashing at me in a huge emotional wave. But I have to remind myself that my family is the reason I am here and that this small sacrifice is just one of the many that so many people in my life have made for me to be here.