When I received my acceptance letter into the Savannah College of Art and Design, I screamed. I was on a lunch break and immediately drove to my mother’s job and told her (still made it back to work early).

SCAD was my dream school, and after spending the entirety of my life passing the same three corn fields to school, I was ready to stretch out somewhere new. I was so tired of where I lived. I would be the new kid for a change. But when the possibility presented itself I did not feel pure joy.

I was terrified.

Leaving home was tougher than I’d pictured it. “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” Joni Mitchell had never felt truer. But I didn’t let that stop me. I attended every class (maybe I had two absences in my first quarter), made good grades, and participated in extracurricular activities. I’d thrown myself into work without letting myself evaluating my emotional and health. This lead to a lot of tension in my back and repressed crying in my dorm shower. In a nutshell, I was a wreck.

When I moved off campus, I suffered waves of anxiety and more ugly cries. I had never lived on my own, or with someone I didn’t know. Both were coupled with living in a place unfamiliar to me. Feeling isolated from all my friends and family back home was extremely hard and I missed them everyday.

Photo credit: Lajanet Williams

I talked to my friends and family and clung to my new roommate like a baby koala. I tried making friends everywhere. I wanted all the emotional support I could get, but I refused assessing what made me feel that way. I was expecting my new home to be just like my old one and that did nothing to help my situation. Instead of getting excited about the potential, I was locked into my past.

After a few months in Savannah, I had to reevaluate my purpose for being at SCAD. My third quarter here a professor told me, “If you are trying something new that it is going to be uncomfortable, but the more you do it, the easier it will get.”

I am not saying that at some magical point in time living away from home feels perfect, but it does get better. Don’t be discouraged by the initial adjustments. Growing pains hurt and that’s okay. I have made some questionable decisions in my life, but I would never go back and unmake the decision to move away from home and pursue my dreams.

By Stephanie Avery