It’s weird knowing in two months that I’m moving out and will be going to college. I’ve found that this is going to be really hard to describe in a way that you might relate or connect to in some way, but in a sense it’s like starting a new chapter.

The philosophy that when one door closes, another one opens has been true in my friendships. I have been friends with a lot of people over the years, but the core three have stayed the same.

I’ve grown up in a small town of about 8,000, and I primarily went to school with the same kids since birth. In Kindergarten, I met the most influential person in my life. She had long light brown curly hair and wore low-rise jeans. (It was the early 2000s, so I’ll give her a pass.) Though we are polar opposites, over the last 12 years she has practically become my sister. We basically do everything together. There isn’t a day when we don’t see or communicate with each other. I’ll admit, our relationship isn’t perfect; we’ve fought, kept secrets, and both have not been there for each other when we’ve needed it. At the end of the day, I’d do anything for her. She puts me in my place when I need it and pushes me to do my best. Most importantly, she doesn’t expect me to be anything but myself.

In third grade, I noticed two girls alone at the monkey bars. They were different from other eight-year-olds. Instead of talking about their favorite Disney Channel original movies, they discussed advanced level books that they read over the weekends. From the outside, the two seemed to have formed a friendship because they were the smartest in their class and shy introverts. They had been friends for just as long as my best friend and I, and they had already made up their own inside jokes with their deep connection. At recess, the dark haired one would do random impressions, ranging from a baby named Gwapes to a retired old man. The blonde one would do gymnastics tricks on the metal bars and laugh at her friend’s jokes. What I didn’t know then was the decision to go over and talk to them would change all four of our lives forever.

Later on, we began to evolve into the people we are now – all learning what we are passionate about and starting to learn where we fit into the world. My three friends all became excellent musicians, and together in high school we had a blast in marching band. (Yup, we were band geeks.) Together we went to early Thursday night movie previews, worked at the same pumpkin patch, and suffered through the same ACT. As much as we did together, personally I think we gained the most through our solo adventures. My curly haired best friend fell in love with theater production and design. She became the stage manager for our theater department during her junior and senior years and worked on seven plays. The dark haired one would go on and become our valedictorian and get a scholarship to go play music for a college next year. Together we work in collaboration on this blog, as I write and she edits. On top of her senior year classes, the blonde one took night classes to get her CNA license and also became a weeaboo on the side. Besides from shipping Naruto and Sasuke, she was part of National Honor Society. Inside of our party of four, we all formed different relationships with each other.

For example, the curly and black haired ones both got into cosplay and going to conventions with each other. Both the blonde one and I were peer leaders on our school’s color guard team and got to build a stronger relationship from that.

In a sense, we were all sisters and created our own little family during the past 10 years. We’ve told each other things we’ll take to the grave, went prom dress shopping, had a few weekend getaways, and created so many happy memories together. Though it’s far away, if we meet someone worthy of marriage, one day we will all be bridesmaids for each other.

I’ve never thought about a life without them until November of last year. I was fortunate enough to be able to go on a trip to Indianapolis for a journalism conference. It was my first time being away from home. I’ve been on vacation and went to camp before without them, but I got the first look at what my future looked like.

Education has always been a big thing for me. I believe the most successful people in life are always continuing to learn. The world around us is pretty interesting. All 7.5 billion people who live on this planet are connected in one way or another. Everyone has their own story to tell that’s expressed by their influences and culture. My decided major is Anthropology, and it looks at human variations in culture in the past and present. Particularly, my focus will be on Sociocultural Anthropology, and that deals with the behaviors and customs of historical culture and social groups. In the fall, I’m going to a state college that has the best Anthropology program in the state only 30 minutes away.

A lot of people in my hometown go to a community college for their associates, continuing on from there or transferring to a larger college afterwards. During high school, I took transferable dual credits and summer classes through my local community college. Taking advantage of this, I’ve already taken my first year and a half of college and only have a few general education courses left. It was smarter for me to go into the state college right out of high school rather than go to a community college. Certain classes I needed can’t be taken at the same time, and I’d waste a year and a half and only be a part-time student. My friends didn’t take as many or any college courses during school, so they are going to our local college. I’ve been used to not having them in my high school classes because we were all on different educational paths. Even if you didn’t have a friend in your class, you always knew someone in the class you could talk to.

People say age is just a number, but turning 18 is a pretty big milestone. I’m the youngest of my family, and basically until the end of time I will be known as the baby of my family. Somehow I never thought the day would come when I was an adult. (According to the parents, I’ll be a child until I start paying my bills.) While walking around alone on campus during freshman orientation on Monday, it kind of hit me. My three friends and I were all adults. While I was making memories at my new home, the curly and dark haired ones were off on their first day at their professional job. Then on the other side of the world my blonde friend and her sister were touring Europe for two weeks without their parents. I looked around and knew no one. Was this what the next three years were going to look like?

No. Part of college is making new friends. In order to live a healthy life, you must have friends. That’s one of the reasons why I’m living in a dorm next year. I’m going to take this once in a lifetime opportunity living away from home to meet new people. Plus, I don’t have to drive there everyday.

This is going be a new chapter in all of our lives, and my friends all making new friends at their college as well. That’s just life. Starting over might be scary, but it might be just what I need. There will never be anyone who can replace them. It’s not like they can’t just come visit me or me coming home to see them at anytime. Even as I write this, we are texting each other thinking up ideas for Halloween on campus and working on a spring break trip. Though my three friends are working this summer and I’m taking a full load of online classes, I’m sure we’ll make plenty more memories.