I’m tired of feeling small

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“You can make a big college feel small, but you can’t make a small college feel big.”

These words that came out of our University of Michigan tour guide’s mouth last Friday have taken root inside of my soul. At the time, I rolled my eyes. In that moment, it was just another fatuous phrase that adults spew to teenagers in order to get them to “buy-in.”

Wisdom, I have learned, does not always sound as wise when it plants itself upon unwilling ears. Mothers, fathers, teachers, and friends will tell me that I just don’t understand. I’m not leaving yet, so how could I possibly understand the sadness of saying goodbye? “The end” never ceases to induce tears. The end of high school. The end of being a kid. The end of life as we once knew it. But what if “the end” didn’t exist? What if life was fluid, and there was never an end, only rebirth, rediscovery, and reawakening? If this is “the end,” then I have never been more excited for it.

In this school, in this city, in this town, I feel small. I feel as though I’ve outgrown the spaces that I once cherished, loved, and embodied. The older I get, the less I am able to see. Through young eyes, the world looks bright and full of magic; however, as more and more years are added to my resumé of life, Grand Rapids only seems to be getting smaller.

Perhaps it’s just my close-mindedness. Perhaps I’ve moved on too fast. Perhaps I’m trying to push away what’s familiar in order to make room for what’s next. Some will say that I’m cynical. Others will tell me that I’m offensive. I say that I’m ready for change.

As I strolled through the campus of one of the top schools in Michigan, through the diag, the law library, and the dorms, everything seemed as though it had been painted over. On my first trip to Ann Arbor, only a mere five months earlier, the streets glowed. The people were fascinating, the air had a sparkle, and the campus of U of M beckoned and called to me. But, on my second visit, it all faded away.

The walkways had become dull; they no longer harbored my dream. A dream I hadn’t realized I’d forgotten was already long lost amongst the sea of possibilities.

Wisdom, I have learned, does not always sound as wise when it plants itself upon unwilling ears.”

My dreams have become bigger; they grow and change with me each and every day. I wish that I could still see things how they once were: when Forest Hills was the biggest school in the world, when Grand Rapids was the place I would never leave, and when Ann Arbor seemed to be the largest leap I would ever need to take.

Spaces shrink, and my fear only seems to grow. The claustrophobia of familiarity is engulfing me, and I don’t want to wait for it to take hold.

I’m tired of feeling small. I’m tired of being small. I refuse to be small.

 

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