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July 11, 2015

Leaving Home at Eighteen

by Mario Peterson

They say that life is a journey, not a destination.  Not just metaphorically speaking; in the midst of the journey we encounter sets of crossroads which we are inevitably faced to make decisions at.  One of these said crossroads most individuals meet is the intersection subsequent to high school graduation.  What are your plans after high school?  What college are you planning on attending? What are you going to do with your life?  These are simple questions most of us have heard as our transition from teenager to young adult took place.  As we all may know, the process could involve the daunting task of relocating far from everything we are used to.  Leaving home in what feels too soon is not always an ecstatic moment in our lives; however, it’s one imperative to the mental growth and independence of an individual.

To say these questions I mentioned earlier were inquired of me would be an understatement.  I couldn’t make myself a bowl of cereal without being asked what I planned on doing after school.  I made my decision early on before graduating.  Junior year I decided to join the active duty Air Force, which came to a surprise to many.  My plan was to continue my education throughout and after my military service which is still in the process and slowly coming to fruition.  I signed up at the age of seventeen, so early that my parents had to sign release forms for me to begin the actual process.

After all was said and done, I had a departure date in July.  This meant I only had two months after graduating high school to be a free spirit, to do what I wanted before going to basic training in San Antonio, Texas.  I could not have been happier knowing that my future was off to a good start, that the foundation of my life “infrastructure” was slowly unfolding to an adventurous yet slightly inexplicable journey.  My mind was immersed on the focal point of my future, and I was excited about that.

Little did I take into account what this meant for other parts of my life.  I probably won’t ever “live” at home again; just visit.  If it wasn’t for social media, I would have forgotten a majority of the people I’ve known for years existed; and the list continues.  All of these factors didn’t really hit me until the second week of basic training.  I spent a substantial amount of time contemplating if leaving home at the age of eighteen was the best idea.  Fast forward to the present, I can say that leaving home early was an unparalleled experience I believe everyone should go through, given the opportunity.

As a young adult, being sovereign with your own life is paramount to personal success and mental growth.  I arrived in Arizona, starting my first full-time job.  With this in mind, I also realized that I was going to need a mode of transportation and an effective budgeting plan to support the decision.  I’m receiving a steady pay check, which means that financing a new sports car is definitely not ruled out. I mean, who wouldn’t want to cruise in a car that screams, “I’m everything you could ever want and more” when looked at? However, as I mentally assess my priorities, I came to the conclusion that making such a decision wouldn’t align with the my intended goals.  Aha!– Growing up just happened!  This being one of many confrontations I had with my conscious by my eighteen year-old self.  This example is very minute. Nonetheless, it will take a “snowball effect” role and turn into even greater challenges down the road which will require self-perseverance.

Those various experiences serve as reassurance that the future is completely dominated by oneself.  There are many more to come and I have an abundance of anticipation waiting for them, whether it’s down the street, across the state or on the other side of the world.  To those who are apprehensive or mystified by breaking free from home young, my words to you are: Go for it and don’t look back. Home will always be home. There is a world full of scenes to see and people waiting to meet you.  The training wheels are off.  The journey of life has just begun.  It will be a ride worth going for.






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