My First Homecoming as Alumna

Earlier this month I visited Boone, N.C. for the first time since graduation last May. I had been missing college, my small college town in the mountains and most of all my friends. I hadn’t seen any of my friends from school in over four months.

I love my friends so much and I have a wonderful group of girlfriends from school. We are all scattered now which is really hard. Towards the end of my final semester I was worried that we would get distracted with our lives and find it difficult to stay in touch. I know that the older we get the more time and effort you have to put into all of your relationships in order for them to last.

I was inspired by the Sisterhood of Travelling Pants and dragged my friend, Laura with me to all the thrift stores in Boone because I insisted we were to find a pair of jeans that fit all of us so we can keep in touch like they do in the books. In reality, there are a couple problems with this. One, it’s not possible and two, even if it was, about 90 percent of jeans at thrift stores are hideous.

olivia leigh gaggi

About mid-summer I came up with a plan B to magical pants, a more realistic one. I started a group chat with our group of friends on Facebook. It was a perfect alternative to magical pants! We all contribute to an ongoing conversation about funny stories, dates and life updates. It also has made planning trips together so much easier.

Homecoming was our first trip and now that we all have jobs we can hopefully begin planning more. It was so good to see them all again. We had so much fun returning to our favorite bar, tailgating and going to the football game. Since I’m in Florida where we see almost no Fall, I forced myself to get up early a couple days to go for hikes and see the changing leaves in the mountains. I can’t wait to go back to Boone again and I definitely can’t wait to see all my friends again.

olivia leigh gaggi

olivia leigh gaggi

olivia leigh gaggi

It’s so strange visiting your college town. I feel like I’ve only been pretending to be a grown up! Maybe that’s why they say “fake it till you make it?” I don’t know!

Love,
Liv

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Words I Liv By:

“Do one thing thing that scares you everyday.”

What I mean by this is that everybody should challenge themselves daily. If you push yourself do something that you’re afraid of (that you know isn’t ridiculously stupid or crazy) you will no longer be scared of that one thing. You will gain confidence in yourself and have a better grasp on who you are as an individual.

I don’t know when I started saying this or where I got it from or if I even made it up myself (it sounds kind of like a Nike ad I think), but since I was about 16 years old I have used this phrase to give myself courage to do things that I find intimidating. From wearing crazy outfits and dyeing my hair pink in high school, to public speaking and all the way to deciding to moving almost 700 miles from the beaches of Florida to the mountains of North Carolina (where I knew basically no one) to start college. This phrase or saying has helped give me the courage to make some of the major decisions  in my life so far.

Although I do not graduate until next May, the closer that that day comes (and the longer that I stay in Florida this summer) I have come to realize that soon I will have to make another big decision and many more to follow after that. I’m going to have to decide what I’m going to do with my life and where I’m going to try to start that life. I’ll have to make this decision and commit to it, just like I did when I chose to attend Appalachian State University. Even though my first year at App was rough I was able to stick through it and ended up learning so much about myself and grew so much from those experiences into the young woman I now am.

The problem with this decision is this: what I want for myself and what my mother wants for me do not match up.  I know my mother wants what is best for me, wants me to succeed and wants me to be happy but I also know that my mother wants me to stay here close to her and stay in Florida. Even though I have expressed a million different times and in a million different ways that even though I love Florida (and perhaps one day I will end up here ) that this is not where I want/need to be to start the next chapter of my life.

My mother claims she is not trying to guilt trip me or manipulate me in any way but I can tell she is doing what she can to change my mind about Florida (which is interesting since she hates Florida and constantly reminds everyone that the only reason she stayed in Tampa was because her mother guilt tripped and bribed her into doing so). She attempts to change my mind by asking me about I feel about living/working in St. Pete (literally, 45 minutes away from Tampa).  Or since my parents are in the process of looking for a new house she talks about it having to be big enough for my sister and I to visit, for me to bring my future husband and also somewhere safe for her future grand kids to play at on weekends (I’m 21 and I do not have a serious boyfriend  at the moment and neither does my 25 year old sister).  And of course,  she never fails to remind me that she would not be happy if I moved too far away to somewhere like Chicago, New York or DC (where my sister happens to live.. make sense?) because she would miss me too much.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love my mom so much. I am so grateful for her and everything she has done for me. We have a great relationship and I know I can count on her for anything and talk to her about almost anything but I feel trapped sometimes when I’m home.  I just know with every ounce in my body that if I decide to stay here after I graduate it will: 1) regret it for the rest of my life and  wonder what I would’ve become if I had attempted a life outside of my comfort zone and 2) Even if I stay here after I graduate with the intention of one day leaving I’ll end up getting wrapped up in a job or a relationship and wind up never leaving.

I love Florida. It’s where I was raised. It is comfortable and familiar but I want new and exciting. I believe that my life is in the beginning and moving back home will feel like it’s already halfway over. Yes, a new job in general will be new and exciting for a little while but it won’t be long until I’m bored of being in the same old, same old Florida.

So as much as it terrifies and scares me to start new in somewhere completely different and away from the family that I love and will miss it is something that has to be done.

I’ve done the beach and the small town so far… I’m thinking the city next. New York? Chicago? DC? London? I have dual-citizenship with Italy so anywhere in Europe is an option, although until I have get my Italian fluent I’ve only got my English speaking skills to guide me.

Love,
Liv