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Post Column: Shifting Tides: The first year of college provides a new kind of freedom

It was 15 minutes past midnight on the 11th of January, and I felt all right. Ella and Louis on the turntable, incense burning, pit bull snoring beside me, and I remembered all the things I had missed about home during first semester.

At school, you feel this surrounding sense of freedom. Leaving your room no longer means playing 20 questions with your mom before walking out the door. You can purchase all your favorite foods without the anxiety of someone getting to it before you, and you can go to sleep at any time of the day without interruptions from noises around the house.

At home, freedom takes an alternate connotation. You can play your music and feel the warmth of home radiating within you in complete solace. It’s that peaceful, secure freedom you don’t pay attention to before moving out. The sound of waffles being made at 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning or a quiet discussion of worldly news between parents sounds pleasing to us even if we’re trying to sleep through the morning dew.

I thought a lot about coming and going during that rendezvous with my familiar four walls, and I arrived at one conclusion. The process of moving from home to school is quite similar to any other transition in life. You miss the hometown moments, the comfort food and the fact that your greatest friends are in the next neighborhood, but you move on to experience the feeling of meeting new people as part of a daily routine.And you begin to make friendships with the little joys you encounter on a college campus: kids playing guitar outside your hall on a fair day or seeing the sunbeams come through a giant oak that somehow heals the feeling of having to get to your 7:30 a.m. class on time.

It’s the same as the awkward move from middle to high school, or beginning a relationship with someone — you give up the familiar for a time in order to grow as a person and expand your life. We give and we take in any period of transition.

I think daily about my life back in Florida and how seemingly perfect it was, but getting too caught up in these daydreams always leads me back to the same place. If we’re not fully in the present moment during this time in our lives, not deeply observing those around us, but instead sit in our room and let the yearning for something else take over, then how will we ever move forward?

When I first read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, I was stunned by the fact that I, along with many others, spend half of my day in the past and the other half in the future, and hold barely an ear to the present. Then I remembered that I’m currently in college, and that fact got me confused because up until now I had been waiting and planning for nothing but this.

I always looked up to kids in college and couldn’t wait to be with them one day; my entire senior year was consumed by things to accomplish before autumn came, and today, I was sitting in this class with my head anywhere but with me. I had forgotten this entire thing I was doing and treated my first day back on campus just like another day in the life.

Yet I’m here now, and now is what my attention deserves.

Garrett Lemery is a freshman studying communications at Ohio University and a columnist for The Post. What experiences did you have as a freshman? Email Garrett at

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