It’s OK to move past your hometown

Noella Williams in her hometown in 2017. Photo courtesy Williams

Whether it’s a holiday or a three-day weekend, many college students look forward to traveling home from their college town. Being in your hometown for the holiday season means spending time with your family, getting lunch with your high school friends or visiting a memorable location. However, I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy staying in my college town rather than returning home.

This isn’t a diss to my family, favorite restaurant back home or the beloved beach. I look forward to revisiting the memories of my hometown whenever I drive through familiar locations. Alas, it is not the same. My hometown, Pensacola, was my home for the entirety of my life, prior to moving to Tallahassee in August 2019. Whether it’s influenced by Tallahassee being the first place that I moved to or the independence that comes along with moving away, I’ve grown fond of Tallahassee a bit more.

Since I stayed in my hometown for two additional years after high school, I believe that I appreciated it for the experiences I had, but I realized it was time to move on. Going to college in your hometown leaves you with a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). Throughout my freshman and sophomore years at my state college, I felt as if I missed out on a true college experience, i.e., staying in a dorm and attending late-night social events. I appreciate my state college for giving me (and my finances) a tuition-free, self-developing experience, but I often think about how different my academics would be if I had attended a university for my entire undergraduate studies.

Perhaps my feelings toward Pensacola are harbored in my desire to move to another location for college, but they could possibly be directed toward my urge to live in a city filled with like-minded individuals. Being surrounded by other journalism students, multifaceted creatives and a welcoming environment is more than likely why I enjoy Tallahassee over Pensacola. I felt boxed in my creativity in Pensacola prior to moving to Tallahassee, and I usually have the same emotion whenever I go home during the holidays.

Overall, I love the opportunity to go home. My hometown taught me a lot about myself and my personality, especially during my two years at Pensacola State College. There’s nothing like spending time with my family, revisiting an old park, trying a new dish at a longtime favorite eatery or catching up with old friends. I understand that I will eventually hold Tallahassee to this same feeling, but for now I sometimes feel more at home here.