Riverside sunset
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Dark Clouds behind my physics building

It's the warm, fall days like this in the Upper Valley that bring me a sense of comfort no matter what I'm going through. The rolling clouds that I see in the background of Baker Berry library just make me feel at home. The warm breeze on a November day feels slightly ominous, exactly like the feeling I got back in Missouri whenever there would be an approaching storm. Today is one of those days, and it reminds me of home. I told myself that I would never look back once I got to Dartmouth, and, in some sense, I haven't. But there are times when your roots shine through, a sense of familiarity creeps up on you and you can't help but think of where you're from. I've learned to embrace those moments and find the balance between the person I'm meant to become and the kid in me who belongs in my old farm town.

Me with a graduation cake wearing a Dartmouth Shirt
This picture seems like it was taken yesterday! I still can't believe time has gone by this fast.

I don't think there's a clear distinction that needs to be made between who you once were versus who you are shaping yourself to be throughout and after college. In my case, there are a few more bad memories associated with being back at home than good ones. I grew up low-income and my family situation just wasn't the greatest. So, it was easy for me to try and cut all ties with the homeland once I got up here. Dartmouth made it relatively easy to do so as well; everything is so beautiful, and it's like a dream come true for someone like me. But, although I may want to wipe my past clean and start it all over sometimes, my childhood and hometown instilled in me values that I will never forget. I think it's crucial to hold onto those values, to hold onto what shaped you throughout your first two decades or so of life. That's what makes this college such an awesome place; it's home to people from every culture and every corner of the world.

There will be a feeling of trying to "fit in" with the larger crowd wherever you pursue your education. Maybe you'll try to wear different clothes or change your values to something that may suit the perspective of everyone else. Something I'm starting to learn after a year of college and then some is to remain true to your beliefs and values that make you who you are. That's not to say close your mind to any outside school of thought. You should allow other perspectives to inform your own, but not flip it upside down. It's important to remember the true values that give your life meaning, whether it be a religious or political view, the ability to make jokes, or listening to country music as you walk across campus (guilty). The point of this post is to stress that you will encounter so many different perspectives at college, and that's great – it's one of the best things about this chapter of your life! However, I think it's easy to lose who you are in the process, to feel like you need to blend in.

You don't need to blend in. You need to be true to yourself and treat people with kindness; everything else will fall into place in a matter of time.

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