When I first entered high school, the problems began. I wanted more independence, and my parents were not so keen to give it. I wanted desperately to be able to explore the world on my own. I wanted to be able to make my own mistakes and then learn from them. I wanted to be able to loosen the leash, to let me fail sometimes. The last thing I wanted, and the last I needed were overprotective parents. At least, that's the way I saw it. The first day freshman year started, I was a changed person. Throughout my four years of high school, I grew farther and farther away from my parents. Since I am still young and my viewpoints have yet to be altered by the chains of parenthood, let me explain something to the mothers, fathers, guardians etc. out there. When your kid begins to push the boundaries, breaking the barrier is inevitable. The thing is, some people will open the gate, and others will wait until their kids break through the fence.
During high school was the first time I truly learned to hate. These were not trivial things, like hating what was served for lunch that day or hating that I had to get up for school all the time. This burned a different color of red; it was a new animal. I hated that it felt like I was gasping for air at home under my parents' reign. I hated that every other kid's parents seemed to give them so much freedom, and mine didn't. I hated that my parents obsessed over where I was at all times and what I was doing. I began to hate pretty much anything, and while I wouldn't say that I became toxic, I will say that I was constantly a bomb with a lit fuse. It was always only a matter of time before the next explosion. I have never cursed more in my life. I have never gone against my parents' word as much as I did during those four years. I tried to be out of the house every second I could. When I got my license, I wouldn't come home from school, I would go straight somewhere else. It didn't matter where. The church, the park or just blowing gas out on the road. The demons ran deep and that feeling that you were invincible kicked in. It was a time when I would drive 60mph down the road no matter what the limit was. During high school I earned myself two tickets, a warning, and got in several accidents (not bad ones) with some seriously close calls. And you know what? I didn't care. I struggled to keep a girlfriend, and as I tried to immerse myself in my schoolwork and my music, I found myself spinning violently out of control. It didn't matter what I was doing, I just wanted out. Out of this town, out of this state, and heck if I could manage it, out of this country. I was ready to completely disappear.
The five universities I applied to were Notre Dame, Clemson University, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Maryland and Penn State University. The first three where the only ones I actually wanted to go to. They are all 14 hours or more away from home. I had no interest in Maryland. I had even less in PSU. I was forced to apply there as a safety net. If I remember correctly, I got into both, but I was quick to notify my parents that even if my least favourite school was the only one I got into, I wouldn't go -- and instead I would join the United States Air Force as an active duty soldier.
Three years ago I got out. Out of my town of luxurious wealthy snobs, out of my high school that was filled with pricks who picked on people and arrogant sons-of-bitches who thought they were better than everyone else. Sure, I had my friends. But I was happy to pack up my things and move. Lots of packing and a 14 hours drive later I was in Clemson, South Carolina. I didn't really say goodbye to anyone from home, and hadn't really intended to; I just disappeared. Even now I still sometimes wonder if I pop up in people's thoughts every now and again and they wonder what happened to me. But then I realized I also don't really care what they think. I didn't shed a single tear when my parents left me at my new home for the next four years. I reluctantly hugged my mother because she demanded it and gave my father a handshake. They left, and throughout the first semester (a solid four months) I probably called them less than a total of 10 times. If we had to communicate (which was usually only when I needed help with something financial) it was through a text message or email. I didn't want anything to do with home and definitely didn't want anything to do with them. I was finally free, right? Sort of. The arguments over the phone still greatly troubled me, even from 800 miles away. It was truly the epitome of the saying that you can't run away from your problems, for they will follow you wherever you go. And those problems, while they perhaps lessened over the years I've been in college thus far, have always still been there.
Throughout the years I've spent at Clemson thus far the relationship I have with my parents has been a rollercoaster. Sometimes it's great, and other times it's quite sour. It seems to be that the more time I spend at home the more those reoccurring anger issues resurface. I am and have always been one to hold grudges. It just so happens that some of those grudges have lasted years. I don't kiss and hug my parents goodnight. I haven't told them "I love you" in probably 7 years. Hugs are only tolerated, and I'm never the one to initiate them. Handshakes are what I prefer with my father. For the first time since I started college, I'm considering not coming home at all until I graduate. Normally I come home for winter break and spring break at the least. I'm still on the fence about it, but the fact that it's even there in my mind is scary even to me.
As graduation approaches and I enter into my final year at Clemson, things have certainly changed my mind. But then again, some things remain the same. I still can't wait to leave, though now from both New Jersey and South Carolina. I've realized that it's very possible I'm a floater -- someone who can't stay in one place for too long. Someone who gets bored with people and surroundings, and has to just move on to start fresh. It's possible too that I subconsciously believe I've fucked up in that transition of turning over a new leaf, and that I need to start over. I don't really know.
So what is the point of all this? Sure, I may be only 21. But I still have things to say. And I think maybe even things we can all learn from. Believe me when I say that this is not the sort of relationship that you want with your kids. There is no guide to parenting and no one specific way has been proven to work best. We are all individuals and we are not perfect. Some of us find it easier to forgive than others, and some of us are much closer with their respective families than others. If you have kids, you know what you signed up for. You know that one day they will want to do things on their own, and maybe that day has already come. But I beg you, let them. Let them experience life, and what better way to learn than to make mistakes? No parent wants their child to fail at anything, or not be able to do what they want to do; but that is a part of life. I wish that I had had that opportunity when I was younger. I wish that maybe some of the relationships I had in my life then still existed now. I wish that I cared more, as it seems I've become more cynical and seem to often start days feeling like it's me against the world.
If I have kids one day, I don't know the approach I will take to raising them. I think that that's sort of going to depend on who I marry, if that happens. But I know that I'm going to try to remember the things that frustrated me when I was younger and take those things into consideration, if only to try to understand where my kids are coming from. The magic of growing older is that the way you see things changes as you age. Being that I'm only in my early 20's, I hopefully have a lot more left of life to learn, grow and take a position on all aspects of life. This is the illustration of where I'm at now, you see. Living what I have lived through, these are just some of the struggles. It's all a part of growing up, learning, adapting. It's all life. But what do I know?
I'm only 21.