In middle school, when most people weren’t even thinking about high school yet, I had already decided exactly what I wanted to do about college. I gave myself two options, just in case one didn’t work out the way I planned (I swear, this was the most organized and driven I have ever been about anything ever). My first option was to go to a private university, Hofstra, 20 minutes away from my house. I was taking writing seminars there at the time, and I had fallen in love with everything about the pretty school. My second option was to go to NYU and live in New York City – because it’s New York City, obviously.
All I knew was that I wanted to live at school. It seemed so exciting – I couldn’t wait to get a dorm room to decorate and a new set of friends to be BFFs with. But when I was a senior in high school and it came time to actually make a decision about college, I made the decision to live at home and commute. And I know this is going to sound dramatic, but I regret that almost every day.
My main reason for staying home wasn’t because I would be terribly homesick or that I would miss my family or that I was scared. Although those were all factors in my decision, the real reason I decided to commute was because of my boyfriend at the time. Let me tell you something: it was the stupidest decision I ever made.
I had started dating D at the beginning of our sophomore year of high school, and by the time I had celebrated my sixteenth birthday, we had promised each other we were going to get married and be together forever. D was my whole world. I had ditched most of my friends to be with him as much as possible, and we were literally together every spare moment we had.
When the college discussion came up, D was stubborn. He was going to a community college in our town and so he would obviously be staying local. I told him about my plans to live at college, reassuring him that we could still be together. He could visit me all the time, we could talk on the phone every day and I would come home a lot. But instead of trying to be supportive, D basically laughed in my face and told me that if I went away to college, we were going to break up. He didn’t want to do the long-distance thing, and there was no changing his mind.
At first, I was stubborn too. We got in a lot of big fights about it, and in the beginning, I was able to ignore D while he did everything in his power to manipulate me into staying home with him. But as it got closer to the time when I had to make a final decision, I started getting worried. I didn’t know what I would do if we broke up. How would I survive the stress of college without him? Who would I hang out with when I came home? Who would I get “good morning” texts from and who would say “I love you” before I went to bed every night? If D wasn’t there for me, how would I ever get through anything?
Obviously, I caved. I agreed to stay home from college for our relationship, mostly because I truly thought I would end up marrying D and I didn’t want to be the one to “mess it up”.
Things didn’t go as planned. After years of constant fighting, I broke up with D during the beginning of our sophomore year of college. Once we were over, I was left with almost nothing. My friends were all away at school. I wanted to start living at school, but my parents refused to pay thousands of dollars for me to live at a college that was only 20 minutes away from my house. Transferring was an option, but I really liked Hofstra and I was scared that by my junior year, I just wouldn’t fit in with a group of people who had been friends for two full years before I came along.
I can’t even explain how much I regret my decision to stay home just for a boy. A boy who now means almost nothing to me, and a boy who really wasn’t very nice to me all the time. A boy who I ended up breaking up with not even halfway through college! Looking back on it, I want to slap my younger self in the face and tell her, “You should NEVER make an important decision like that based entirely on a guy.”
It’s not like I didn’t love my college – I did. I had a great experience at Hofstra and I ended up getting a part-time job I enjoyed and meeting friends I’ll never forget. But I feel like I missed out on so many college things that you can only experience if you live at school. It’s not only about the crazy parties and the freedom from things like curfew. Going away to school is also about gaining a sense of independence that is really hard to get while you’re still living under your parent’s roof. It’s about making new friends from all over the place and learning new experiences in a different environment.
I wish I could have done all that, and I’m still kicking myself for not giving it a try. If I hadn’t been so blinded by “love”, I would have realized that if my boyfriend truly loved me and cared for me, he would have wanted me to do something that would have made me happy. He wouldn’t have wanted to hold me back for mainly selfish reasons. He would have let me go, and if we were meant to be together, we would have worked things out.
Now, when I see girls do the same thing I did, I feel the need to change their mind. I’m not saying every single girl should live at school – it’s not for everyone and that’s fine. But if you’re interested in it, you owe it to yourself to give it a chance. And you should never throw away a dream because you’re trying to make your boyfriend happy. If he’s really worth it, he’ll stand behind you.
What’s your biggest regret? Have you ever made a big decision based on a boyfriend? Do you think I did the wrong thing? Tell me in the comments.