When people hear that I am from Texas, they almost always ask what made me come to William & Mary from so far away. I’ve never been surprised by this question, because from the moment I decided to make William & Mary my home for the next four years the question of why immediately began popping up. In my hometown, almost everyone goes to one of the numerous universities and colleges in Texas, so people have always been interested in why I decided to leave. Unfortunately, my choice to come to William & Mary isn’t something that I can sum up quickly in a passing conversation, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully articulate exactly why I knew this was the perfect place for me; however, I would say the best answer I can give for why I chose William & Mary is: I knew it would provide me with the best opportunity for personal growth.
When deciding whether I wanted to attend William & Mary, I considered the impact it would have on my life, both present and future. I knew that if I decided to stay comfortable and go to a place that was familiar and close to home, I wasn’t going to be in a space that would challenge me to redefine who I was and what I wanted out of my life. Though I loved my friends from home, I wanted to know what it was like to completely start from scratch in a place where I knew no one, and no one knew me. I wanted the space to define myself by who I was becoming, and not by who I used to be. I wanted to make friends that had different backgrounds and life experiences, and I knew if I went to a college where I already knew people, I would fall back on them as a safety net. I also knew that a majority of the students at William & Mary would be from Virginia, and the only time I’d ever been to Virginia was my quick college visit to William & Mary. I was both excited and nervous to fully immerse myself into an unknown culture and learn how my experiences compared to people who used words like NOVA and Wawa in their everyday conversations.
Now, reflecting on the decision I made over two years ago, I am so thankful I decided to take a chance and attend a school over a thousand miles away from home. Though I was scared and nervous to leave behind everything I knew and loved, I’m so thankful for how my time at William & Mary has given me both the freedom to fail, and the opportunities to succeed. I can say with certainty that the people and classes here are constantly challenging me to reexamine who I am and what I stand for. They force me to look at the ideals and values I have been raised with, and make my own decisions for what I’m going to allow to define me, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I am so grateful for all the friends I have made at this school, and all the experiences I’ve had that have molded me into the person I am today, and the person I will be one day. It’s crazy to think that if I hadn’t proven to myself that I could enter an unknown space and find a place where I fit in, I might not be studying abroad in Australia next semester, or making plans to move up to New York once I graduate. I don’t know who I would be right now if I had played it safe and taken the beaten path, and I don’t really care. I’m so grateful for the ways I have grown, even in just a few short years at this college, that I wouldn’t want to imagine my life any other way.
So for anyone out there from out of state, or even in state, who is scared to make that jump and pursue the unknown, I can guarantee that no matter what happens, you aren’t going to regret beginning the journey to discover who you are meant to be.