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I was born and raised in Georgia, but that didn’t make me a Southerner, far from it. My parents were both from Utah, and as a result, raised me to avoid certain Southern customs. I never learned to say “y’all” or “I’m fixin’ to.” In fact, I grew up disliking those phrases. Despite this, my childhood is firmly rooted in the red clay of Georgia, and always will be.
My life had been fairly stable: middle class, two parents, you know. But in the middle of my junior year at high school, my parents received bad news. My dad’s job had been cut. Fortunately, the company he worked for had offered him a new position… in Oregon. This meant that at the end of the school year, my family would have to take the modern Oregon Trail on interstate freeways to cross the US from southeast to northwest.
Was I devastated? Of course I was. My life had been shattered faster than a baseball hitting a window. My senior year in high school would be spent trying to fit into a completely new social environment: one where friendship circles were already well-developed and where it would be difficult to insert myself. And then just as soon as I made friends there, the school year would be over, and I would be off to college, thrown into yet another new social environment, and this time without my family nearby.
I was crushed when I thought of losing my friends. I’ve never been a social butterfly, but I was not a social outcast either. I prided myself on being popular with the people I did hang out with. Leaving them would be rough, to say the least.
I have learned, however, that time is a great healer. After a few weeks, I felt better. The initial emotional blow had passed. Now that my mind was no longer clouded by sadness, I was able to think about this upcoming move in a new way. I usually get along with everybody. I’m a nice person. Moving to this far away land of Oregon would be full of opportunity. I could start with a fresh record. If I made a good first impression, I had many choices before me. I started to look at the bright side of things. Maybe the school there would be better. Maybe I would make really great friends. Maybe the nearby Cascade Mountains would be fun to explore.
After a while, my whole outlook had changed. No longer was I melancholy and pessimistic. I was positive and hopeful. Sure, I will still be saddened by the move. I will always miss my friends. There will be no more familiarity. I will have to assert myself, something that could prove a challenge. And yet, I almost look forward to the chance.
I know that many people have endured similar shocking changes in their lives, some harder than mine, some easier. Either way, the core experience is the same. Adaptation is key. Don’t become mired in self-pity. Look up, don’t look down. Staring at your feet the entire time will ensure that you never see where you’re going.
I know that many of you might say, “My case is an exception, no one has had it as bad as I have.” All I can say is to give it a chance. No one can hold you back but yourself. Recognize this and realize your true potential. Just as I learned, change is not an enemy. It’s an opportunity.
Look up, smile, and keep moving forward.





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