Life-changing Experiences

Just a girl from the small town of Gentry, Arkansas, with nothing but a McDonald’s and one stoplight. I grew up attending the smallest school possible. When I was younger, I would see big skyscrapers on TV and I would tell myself, “I’m going to live there one day”. I made that promise to myself for the first time at age four.

I wake up in the morning and I can hear the roosters crow, cows mooing, and tumbleweeds rolling across the dirt road. When I was younger, I knew we weren’t in the city, but I still thought we lived uptown, next to some of the bigger cities. Little did I know, my life was about to change. My mom had told me about a place called New York City and I was going to get to go at the age of 12. I was so excited; I screamed, cried, and hugged my mom with as much force as I could.

The time has come. I’m 12 years old, and ready to take on the city and own it like it’s my red carpet. My mom and I got up at 5 a.m. to catch a plane, and this was my first time being at an airport, let alone being near an airplane. I was so nervous being on an airplane for the first time. The blood rushing to my head, sweat pouring from my hands, the knots turning in my stomach made me re-think this whole situation. The emotions running through my head were everywhere. I was thinking of the worst-case scenario; I was terrified. My mom held my hand the entire time and I felt perfectly fine about 15 minutes in, then I was just bored out of my mind. A few hours later my mom woke me up from my much-needed nap and told me to look out the window. There it was. New York City. You could see the skyscrapers, every building, Central Park, the entire city from the clear sky above.

Time flew by like a jet soaring through the sky. It was time to go, and I still remember the tears falling from my eyes down my cheeks six years later. This was when I officially realized that I am made for the city. When we got home, I told my mom how badly I wanted to move to a city and get out of the small town we called home.

I’m now in high school and my dream of moving to a bigger city was still one of my top priorities. I did not know how I was going to do it, because the standardized tests were always difficult for me, so I thought I was out of luck. Little did I know, I could get a basketball scholarship and have my college paid for. This was when I realized that I must work my hardest to earn that scholarship so I can live my dream. I was always good at basketball, so I didn’t think it was going to be too difficult until I noticed the high school I went to. Nobody has ever heard of us, and we are in a little town. So how was I going to get colleges to notice me? I started to apply to colleges everywhere I could think of that I wanted to go to. I had gotten accepted into them, but how was I going to afford them?

I was sitting in my room after a long day at school, and I had gotten a text message on my phone. It read, “Hey Emily, this is the head basketball coach at Stephens College located in Columbia, Missouri. I would like to talk with you over the phone about a few things.” I jumped up and down screaming my head off hoping it was going to be the call. I ended up making a time and I called the head coach. My heart was pounding, and my hands were sweating profusely. Then, he asked the question, “would you like to be a Stephens College Star?” I had finally gotten a scholarship to go to college. I talked it over with my mom before finally committing to Stephens College, but it was a done deal no matter what. So, I ended up committing to Stephens College.

It was move-in day and I had already seen more people than I have ever seen in my entire city. There were restaurants everywhere, buildings, sports teams, fancy cars, and even animals all over the place. It wasn’t New York City, but I was just glad to be out of the middle of nowhere. I was running off adrenaline, and I wasn’t thinking about me being by myself and on my own. That hit me like a sack of bricks to the head when my family left.

At home, I was never alone. I always had my family in the same room with me, or just a mile away. This was something that would take a while to get used to. I wasn’t sure what to do at first. I couldn’t walk into the other room and talk to my mom about how her day was or grab food off the stove that she had made. I was alone. I was feeling anxious that first night, and I was scared deep inside. I was alone with nobody else with me, with my thoughts, It was a huge transition for me. I went from always having my family by my side, to having nobody but me and four walls surrounding me.

My big dreams of living in the big city and taking it over were a little different than I had realized. Being on my own in an unknown world is nothing like living under the same roof as my family. No matter how lost in the city lights I get, nothing will stop me from finding my way back home.

Emily Toland

I am a student at Stephens College majoring in Biology to become a Radiologist Technician. I am taking English Comp to improve my English and writing skills. I hope to learn and become better so I can use these skills in the near future.

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