ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: What It Feels Like to Have Your World Turned Upside Down

By Jessa Van Gorp // As Told to Kaitlyn Howe

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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: What It Feels Like to Have Your World Turned Upside Down

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I never thought my happily ever after would be in a town called “Antioch”. Some people may view Antioch as old, dingy and boring. Others may see it as a blast into the future. I see it as both.

I was born and raised in a small, predominantly Dutch town in Iowa. I lived a childhood full of laughter, family and love. I never thought I was missing out on anything. I enjoyed growing up where I did.

Family was my main support system. My parents always worked hard to provide for our family, yet those whom I admired were not my parents, they were my brothers.

Some of my friends see their older siblings as a burden, claiming they rob them of their individuality. I’ve never agreed with that. I always saw my two older brothers as a portal to my future. I had grown up with the intention of going to the same schools as them, having the same friends as them and keeping the same secrets as them. My future was set in my mind, and I could not be happier about it.

Then, my world changed.

A short conversation with my father would eventually lead to a long lifestyle change. My father told me he had been offered a job in a new place. I remembered my parents talking about this beforehand, but I never thought it would actually happen. When I heard the news, the only person I could think about was myself. I was strictly concerned with how this move was a burden to me, not an improvement for my family. My head filled with a mixture of emotions. What about my friends? Could I make new friends? What about my school? Will I be able to fit in? Will life go as I want it to?

The uncertainties seemed endless. I would no longer live the life I was so accustomed to; I would also no longer live the life I hoped I could someday live.

I had initially hoped that we would only be moving to another town in Iowa. If that were the case, I thought keeping in touch with my old life would be significantly easier. Despite my optimism, my mind wondered where we could possibly be moving. For all I knew we could be moving to the other side of the globe. Having to take an airplane to see my beloved friends was an unbearable thought.

My mind was put somewhat at ease when I found out we were moving to a town called “Antioch,” only a five hour car ride away. I at least thought it was a good sign that I would be able to drive back and forth between my new town and my old town.

My family was planning on leaving my hometown as soon as I graduated eighth grade, but I moved to Antioch the August just before I started my freshman year. I wanted to spend as much time with my friends as possible. I was mentally preparing myself to say goodbye to the people I had known my entire life.

When the time had come for me to finally move and begin my new life, I was so nervous. My mom told me that it would be easier to move in the beginning of freshman year because it is a new beginning for everyone. Her advice made me feel a little better, but then I realized that a large majority of the incoming class was coming from one middle school. It reminded me of my hometown. Everyone that you went to grade school with, you also went to middle school with, and you also went to high school with. It made me feel like I was in a tight knit community once again, only this time I was on the outside of it.

Freshman year came and went. At the end of my first year at Antioch, I never thought I would be in the place that I was. A year prior, I was sitting in my parents car crying my eyes out because I did not want to move. I had grown tremendously, socially and as an individual. My friends in Iowa will always have a special place in my heart, yet I grew to love my new friends in my new town. To my surprise, I seemed to fit right in with the students at Antioch. Most people did not know that I had moved from Iowa prior to starting freshman year; they thought I had lived in Antioch all along.

Looking back on this drastic transition, I realized that I am now offered much more than I was before. I enjoyed living in my old town and do not want to bash on it, but it was not the most interesting place for adventurous teenagers to explore. In Iowa, my friends and I basically had one coffee shop or one local movie theater that we could all meet up at. Besides that, there was not much else our town could offer our growing social lives. I am now offered a much wider spectrum of activities to do and places to go. I wish I could go back and talk to the person I was when I was first told I was moving; I would tell her that her new town would open her eyes to many new opportunities.

I grew up thinking my whole life was set in stone for me. Yet, my world was completely rocked without my consent. Despite my initial ignorance, I later saw that moving has improved my life in many more ways than I had anticipated. I have learned that you will get the most out of an experience when it’s least expected.

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