The importance of never losing track of one's roots is something difficult to maintain. We graduate high school and then the world opens up. Some move away to college, some join the military and others don't feel a need to find different paths. These decisions leave us with another: who we choose to keep in our lives. With each path we take, new obstacles and new distances, both literal and figurative, develop. Weeks and months may pass and before you realize it, it's been a year since you last spent time with your childhood best friend. What matters the most, however, is what we make of the next opportunity we have to reconnect. Do you wish to keep them close? Should they still have a place in your life? Do you deserve one in theirs? These questions are never easy and some people who were once more important to you than anyone else could disappear from your life entirely. Remembering to nurture friendships that have been important your whole life is a major aspect of life after high school.
In his novel, "Invisible Monsters," Chuck Palahniuk wrote, "Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever met." Recovering and helping old friendships survive reflects the nature of this quote. The person that each of us are reflects the people we have known. This past weekend, I returned home for my high school's homecoming game. The alumni were invited back to celebrate the school's 10th year of operation and also to witness the dedication of the stadium to our former principal. The football game played on in the background while we mingled with people from our past, reminiscing, laughing about our old antics. It hasn't been that long, but it has been long enough for some of us to forget what that sense of "home" felt like.
The people we surrounded ourselves with in our formative years helped form our opinions. They formed our habits. They also helped us start out on the paths that will eventually lead to our future. In high school, I wasn't popular by any means. I didn't party. I didn't have much of a rebellious streak. I did surround myself with many goal-oriented, driven people. My best friends encouraged me to succeed but also to have fun. I see these habits in my lifestyle today.
At that football game, I spent time with people I've known since elementary school, several of whom I hadn't spoken to in a couple of years. It was as if we had spoken just yesterday. I felt immersed in that feeling of being truly home, even if it was for a short period of time. I was also reminded of how inspired I was, upon graduating high school, to go to college and be the first of my siblings to graduate from a major university. Returning to where our roots begin can have that sort of healing effect on our mental state. It can remind us of why we fought so hard to get to where we are.
Moving away to college isn't always easy. Neither is remembering the reasons why we left in the first place. Sometimes it takes that small reminder of where we come from and all that we have conquered to get to where we are going. It's not taking steps backward. Returning to the place that helped formed you should seem more like turning around after hiking a mountain and looking down over all that you have gotten past to reach the place you are in. Don't lose track of your roots.
— Kayla Graham is a senior in English literature. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.