By Katie Wise
It was not the first time, and I knew it would not be my last. On Easter of 2011, my parents called me into the kitchen to tell me the news. My life was going to change, something that has never been easy for me to handle.
The time had come for our 3rd move.
My mom had recently been fired from her job, mainly due to the bias against women amongst male executives in business grouped in the southern United States. I knew she had been searching for jobs all over the country, but with my dad’s seasonal depression after we moved from Arizona, I knew it was not likely we would be staying in Tennessee. However, I still secretly hoped to finish high school at the school I had started.
As soon as I heard the news I slid down the refrigerator door. After realizing that the initial stereotype of “people not wearing shoes” was not true, I had grown to love Franklin, Tennessee. I had developed friendships that would last a lifetime and finally grew out of my awkward phase of braces and ponytails. My braces were off, my hair was long and I felt I was finally ready to conquer the world.
After begging my mother, with no success, to change her mind, I retreated upstairs to my small yet bright closet, the place I felt safest, and cried for hours. I banged my feet and fists against the ground hoping my parents would hear and believe how upset I was about the decision.
I would not leave this spot.
My parents brought my Easter dinner up to my closet and begged me to eat something. However, I’ve never been one to eat when my stomach is in knots. After I refused what seemed like one hundred times, my dad decided to stay and talk with me.
He spoke calmly and slowly, “Katie, I’m so proud of the young lady you have become. You make good grades, hang out with the right crowd, and seem to be headed in the right direction. We told you we would not move until after your senior year, so we will keep this promise if you feel it to be the right decision. Simply recognize this is your mother’s dream job. She will be the CIO for over 30 hospitals. Do you want to be the one to take that away from her?”
After he said this, I was overcome with guilt. I couldn’t take away from my mother something that she had worked so hard all of her life to accomplish. I finally decided it was the right decision to leave Tennessee. This moment was the last time I cried before the actual move. It felt as if I had made the decision and not my parents. I could not cry if I was the one to make the decision to move or not.
My recent silence sparked alarm within my parents.
They began to think that the move had made me depressed and that I was contemplating attempting suicide. At the time, I had no idea these thoughts were going through their brains. They went behind my back to see a psychiatrist in order to understand how they might be able to prevent me from attempting suicide.
All they had to do was ask.
Suicide never has and never will be an option for me. I’m far too happy to end my life. I want to remain fighting on this Earth until my body decides my time is up.
I cannot blame them for being worried. A common sign of suicidal thoughts is a sudden improvement in mood and lack of interest in typical activities. I did not spend as much time with my friends or going to school activities not because I was depressed or having suicidal thoughts, but because I knew I was not staying.
Luckily, the psychiatrist informed them my behavior was typical for a teenage girl experiencing a big change. My parents were told, “Live your lives the way you want because one day she will have the opportunity to live hers.”
Two months later on my 16th birthday, we moved.
Movers loaded up the truck until the house was completely empty. Early in the morning, on June 29th, 2011, my dad drove me to the DMV to get my license. As soon as I got the license in my hand, we started the long drive from Tennessee to Arizona.
I spent the rest of the summer by myself for the most part. My parents tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible and encouraged me to do things, but I did not have friends to do them with. School had not even started yet for me to meet people.
I had no friends.
For the next six months I was miserable to say the least. I cried almost every night. I missed my old friends, old boyfriend, and old house.
It was not until my boyfriend from Tennessee and I decided to break up that I decided it was time to let go. To this day I am not sure why I believed a long distance relationship at 16 was a good idea.
After the break up, I joined in on the school festivities. I started going to football games and joined a powder-puff football team. The student-coach on my powder-puff team was the first crush I had after my breakup. From that moment on, I decided to do as much as possible to be apart of my new high school.
I joined 6 different clubs at school and created one lifelong best friend. I even went on to become Prom Princess and Homecoming Queen runner-up.
Realizing how lonely I was during my first 6 months in Arizona is what made my adjustment to college much easier than it probably would have been.
I knew the reason moving, or big changes in general, are so hard for me is because I lived my life as an introvert. I love to talk when I know a person and feel comfortable, but as soon as someone new arrives I hide in the back, scared to express my thoughts and feelings out loud. I held myself back all these years by remaining comfortably in my comfort zone rather than expanding it.
These big changes in my life are what I needed to become successful.
I look around at all my college friends who are struggling adjusting to Arizona State; they grew up in a small town and never had any major changes. Here I always thought they were the strong ones, not me. I watched my boyfriend cry for the very first time because the adjustment to college was more than he could bear.
Entering college, students suffer from depression and anxiety. While some of this is due to an increase in workload, many counselors privately say that their students are surprisingly lonely. There is a large and growing body of research that suggests that the skills of emotional intelligence-the ability to reason with and about emotions to achieve goals- are correlated with positive outcomes across the entire age spectrum, from preschool through adulthood.
I thank my parents often for moving me three times. Every time I suffered a little but I also used the time to get to know myself on a deeper level.
I realized who and what I wanted to be.
College was simple for me. I knew that to adjust I needed to get involved as soon as possible.
My dad pushed me to go to Camp Carey, a summer camp for students in Arizona State’s W.P Carey School of Business. This is another thing I am grateful that my dad pushed me to do. I did not make best friends, but I realized everyone was new and attempting to adjust just as I was. My camp counselors were in a business fraternity called Alpha Kappa Psi; they pushed me to rush.
The first thing I did when I arrived on campus was figure out how to sign up. After attending some of the rush events, I soon became a pledge for Alpha Kappa Psi. It was almost like taking another class, due to the amount of workload that came with attempting to gain admittance as a member of the organization, but I made amazing friends and gained professional skills that I will continue to use during my collegiate career and beyond.
I never went through the rough entrance to college the rest of my high school friends experienced or are still experiencing.
I let go of my fears and embraced change as it came.
The attitude and drive my new friends pushed me to find an internship this summer; I did not want to fall behind the norm of this successful group. I will now be interning for Dignity Health because of my dad pushing me to attend Camp Carey.
My new friends had studied abroad in various places including Prague. After hearing more about it, it sounded like something I would love to do. I have set a goal for myself to study abroad at least once during my team at Arizona State. I never thought I would be okay with leaving my friends and family for months at a time, but I want to step outside of my comfort zone and learn.
I’ve grown so much from the advice my parents have provided for me over the years to help form the person I am today.
The moral of the story: learn to embrace change. If you don’t like something – change it. Sometimes life happens and there is no way to avoid the change; if you can’t change it – leave it. Our lives have a path and it is time we simply let go of our fears and follow it.