High School to College: Feeling Stuck In “The Middle”

I’m in a really awkward stage in my life.

I like to call this feeling “the middle.” In the middle of youth and adulthood, in between high school and college, and simultaneously wanting to stay and wanting to move out, I’m confused. My mind is overwhelmed with emotions that can only be described as “bittersweet.”

I’ll miss Oxnard, my parents, my mom’s cooking, my dog Peeka, my boyfriend, and the security blanket of having my parents around whenever I need them. However, because college move-in day is in less than four months, I can’t help but feel slightly upset, yet elated that I’ll have a fresh new start at life, a new place to call my own, and the strongest sense of independence I’ve known yet.

I grew up thinking to myself, “I can’t wait to move out of here!”. I would dream endlessly about the ambitious students I’ll meet in college, the college dorm life I’ll be experiencing, and the connections I’ll make throughout college that will bring me one step closer to becoming a journalist.

Now that I’m getting closer to that, though, I’m afraid. Despite not yet graduating high school – let alone completing finals – I don’t have that same sense of urgency that I used to possess to pack all my bags and leave the home in which I’ve lived since I was born. Rather than daydreaming about flying far away from Oxnard, I would think deeply about the battles I’ll have to overcome and the family and companions I’ll be missing once I depart for college.

I’m not saying that I regret accepting my admission to Cal Poly SLO by any means; I’m merely saying that the discomfort of life after high school frightens me, yet I know that it will undoubtedly be one of the most enriching times of my life that will allow me to thrive as a student, leader, and aspiring journalist.

I hope that by leaving home to study my passions, I can blaze a trail for my future family to pursue their own dreams and to do whatever it takes to be the person they aspire to become someday, even if it means moving out of their tiny bubble called Oxnard and starting anew in a different city and culture.

If there are any other high school seniors who feel this way, know that you’re not alone. I’ve felt stuck in the middle for a long time, yet couldn’t find the words to thoroughly encapsulate both the “bitter” and the “sweet” of it all. But pursuing higher education is a courageous act, whether you’re 18 or 81 or first-generation or third-generation, and it is an act to be celebrated and revered. This part of my life feels terribly awkward and grossly uncomfortable, but growth cannot occur without both of these feelings.

This reminds me of a beautiful Robert Frost quote that I repeated to myself (akin to a mantra) as I overcame self-harm and depression: “The only way out is through.”

And with that, I wish you the best of luck if you’re graduating or have already graduated from high school!

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