Monday, February 3, 2014

City Girl, Living the Dream

If you had asked me in high school where I thought I'd end up at college, I'd never have imagined it would be Chicago. My plan was to go to University of Illinois- my sister went there along with a bunch of people from my high school. It's a great school, and it's got a huge campus and a football team and frat houses and all those quintessential "college" things that I was so certain I needed.

My perfect plan didn't exactly work out. Turns out, no matter how well you did in high school, college is expensive. Who knew, right? So I ended up at a tiny social justice school that was a lot more liberal with the scholarship money. More importantly, I ended up far from the sprawling rural campus I had envisioned. I was instead directly in the middle of downtown Chicago.

Sometimes, over the past four years, I've regretted missing out on the traditional, state school college experience. We don't have football games (unless you count the Bears), my sorority doesn't have a house, and our "campus" is made up of city blocks instead of a quad. I never got those tailgating experiences, or quarter pitchers on a Tuesday night, or frat parties every weekend.

But I did get a view of Lake Michigan out my dorm room window. I got Millenium Park across the street from my night class. I get professional sports teams and huge concerts right in my back yard, and some of the best food in the world. Seriously. I got the sense of autonomy that comes with being able to navigate around public transportation with the best of them. I got the comfort in knowing I can take care of myself in a city of 2.7 million people. I got the perspective that comes with being constantly surrounded by diversity, excitement, and new ideas. I got to call the place thousands of people dream of living in one day home.
You honestly can't beat this view
Sometimes when I'm just going through the motions, walking to class or work, I forget how lucky I am to call the third biggest city in the US my home. I forget that if I just look up and open my eyes, I can see the Sears Tower (not the Willis Tower, I swear to god). So as much as I sometimes feel like I missed out, I realize that I just got a very different, equally if not more awesome, experience.

What I'm getting at is that sometimes plans change. It can be really, really scary at first. Going to a state school would've meant having my sister, and friends from high school, there to help ease the transition. Coming to the city for school, I knew absolutely no one. I was terrified, but in the end I'm so glad things turned out the way they did. I know now when I look around at the life I have here that I built it myself, from scratch. That makes me feel like I can accomplish pretty much anything in life.

So next time life throws a curve ball at you, embrace it. Just because something is different doesn't mean it isn't exactly what you're meant to be doing. So take the less safe route sometimes, because it could end up being absolutely wonderful. You could get as lucky as me and get to wake up every day in a beautiful city with a life you can be proud of.
Showing my older sister around the city
And on a final note, I definitely recommend living in a city at least once in your life. I realize some people prefer the suburbs, but there is something amazing about being surrounded by so much energy all the time, and it's that feeling you can only get in a city. I don't think I'll stay in Chicago my whole life, but I know no matter where I go, I'll always be a city girl.

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