Of the 400 kids in my graduating class, about 350 are attending the local university 20 minutes away from our neighborhoods. The other 50 kids consist of the following three groups: those who are not going to college, those who are going to the big university an hour-and-a-half away, and me.
Diverging from the convention and going to a college 700-plus miles away is something that a lot of people don't understand. Explaining to my friends and family why New York City appeals to me and why I'm choosing a slim shot at a career in publishing over them is very difficult, but over the past few months I've found some nice techniques on breaking it down to them.
1. It's not you, it's me.
Explain that you are moving away for you. I'm always given quizzical looks when I tell people about my move to New York. "Kentucky isn't so bad," people always tell me. And it isn't. I live in Louisville, where there are very little cows and a lot of culture and like-minded people that share my loves of literature and big, gritty cities and Obama. It is not bad at all, compared to other parts of the south. I would not have a problem with living here a little while longer, possibly moving back someday, but it all boils down to: my industry is not in Louisville, the future I've worked so hard for over the past four years is not in Louisville.
2. Home for the holidays.
College is not an all-year event (unless you just can't get enough and decide to take summer courses). You'll most likely be home for Christmas, Hanukah, etc. as well as spring and summer break. You're not going to be lost at sea.
3. Constant connection.
Your friends have a phone and Twitter and Facebook and SnapChat among the handfuls of other communication tools, right? Good. It'll be as if you never lost connection. A lot of my friends have jobs and hard classes and our schedules aren't always in synch, so even if we can't fit in a coffee date, we do get to FaceTime in our pajamas with the same TV show on in the few minutes we have to spare before bed. I enjoy this ritual deeply, and plan to continue on with it in my dorm. We're living in an age when it is so easy to stay connected with people, despite all of the brick walls -- explain this to your friends.
Going away to college is one of the most exciting times of life. It is, at least, for me. I'm thrilled
about moving away, but not too long ago, right before I began applying to schools in New York,
I cared intensely about how my friends might react. I was nervous they wouldn't understand.
The good news: they did.