There’s a lot of different options for “dummies” in the series of reference books published by John Wiley & Sons Inc. There’s everything from Pinterest for Dummies to Bird Watching for Dummies, but there isn’t “Transitioning to College for Dummies”. I was warned that the transition to college might be hard, but I didn’t anticipate exactly how hard it was going to be for me.
Up until now, I took for granted the communities I grew up in. Now that I live somewhere else, I know that I was extremely fortunate not only to grow up in Palo Alto, but more specifically in the St. Mark’s community. These communities always made me feel loved and supported. If I ever needed anything or any sort of help, there was always someone to lean on at St. Mark’s. Most of our church community has known me since I was born, and people know lots of things about who I am and what made me that way. College is different. No one knows you. This can be good and bad. On the one hand, you get a fresh start. On the other hand, no one knows all the good things about you or where you came from. I miss being able to say something about my hometown and have someone know exactly what I’m talking about without me having to explain the entire backstory. I even miss the security of the routine I used to sometimes find boring. But what I miss most of all, is the place where everyone knows my name, and I always feel welcomed and loved. My community. Being away from that sometimes feels very lonely.
I don’t know if growing up as a member of St. Mark’s was as important for everyone as it was for me. But I do know that in my case, not only was it rewarding, but it was a little more unique. Being the daughter of the Rector has always been something I’ve valued and been grateful for. There were things like being a little girl and sitting under the altar during communion and thinking it was the best game in the world. And there were bigger things like seeing familiar and smiling faces as I grew older, and always feeling like everyone is interested in you and what you are up to and how your life is going. I under appreciated what it was like to have so many people care about me because it had always been there. Now that I’m away, I miss that St. Mark’s community every day. It turns out St. Mark’s is pretty unusual, and it’s hard to find something to replace it. They say that we often take things for granted until we don’t have them anymore, and that’s exactly what I feel about St. Mark’s. The good news for me is that I get to come back and visit and St. Mark’s is still there…just like I always remember it. And even while I’m away at college, I do know that people are thinking about me and that I’m still part of the extended St. Mark’s community. It sounds kind of cliche, but be sure to appreciate what you have! It took going away for me to really understand just how important St. Mark’s and all its people are to me. I’ll be home for Thanksgiving and then for Christmas and I can’t wait. God bless you all!