When you find yourself living in a college town, the traditional rules and definitions of what constitutes a family change.
Growing up, my family was always really close. Because of that, my two older brothers and I learned the importance of being there for each other and accepting each other unconditionally.
Until I left for college, my family was always there when I had a rough day at school, or a rough day with life in general. Now, with both of my older brothers out of college and starting their own incredible lives away from home and me going into my junior year at CSU, quality time with the whole family is limited.
That’s what happens, though. You grow up, you move out, and suddenly your family and your parents’ seasoned advice feels a little less accessible.
Last weekend, my mom, dad, two older brothers, sister-in-law and I had the opportunity to be together for the first time in three years. It was only three short days before everyone had to leave again, but with how fast life moves and how busy we all are, I was grateful for any time we had.
It is difficult to be away from the support system that has been there all of your life, but there is something to be said about the family that you acquire throughout your time spent living in a college town. They make it easier to get over feeling homesick, and they make the uncertainty of the journey seem a little more certain.
“Family” is no longer a term limited to blood relatives that live wherever you consider to be “back home” or those that you’ve spent your entire life with up until now.
The people who have your back in the worst situations, the people who pull an all-night cram session with you during finals week, the people who you spend the best Friday nights with, the ones who stand by you when life gets really tough – those are the people that become your family.
The best part about this kind of family is that you are free to be all of the wonderful, crazy, weird, unique things that you are, no matter what.
My family back home has been nothing but helpful and supportive, but I was always excited to get to college and find those friends that get too close to be considered anything less than family.
It is never about being perfect or looking cool, and that makes it easy to bring out the best in each other even when college life gets really hard. This family is a foundation for inspiration, for the cultivating of ideas and for an experience that is too big and too important not to share.
The connections that you make here are unlike the many flimsy friendships from high school years. These are lifetime friends, and we are in it for the long run.
This family away from home is made up of amazing people that make every part of this big, crazy experience totally worth it (even the not-so-awesome parts like an 8 a.m. lecture on a Monday or a 5 p.m. lecture on a Friday). This is the kind of family that I get to create. It’s the kind of family that knows exactly what I am going through because they are right there going through it with me.
We pick each other up, and we bring each other to life. We are all standing on this cliff called “college,” ready to jump into real life together, even though we are each jumping for different reasons.
Family is blood, but family is also the people you find along the way on this crazy ride. Whatever you are – a wallflower, a social butterfly or anything else in between – you are an important part of a college town family, and you will always belong.
Collegian Staff Reporter Haleigh McGill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.