Freedom by Tania Vasquez

Freedom by Tania Vasquez--Professional/Final Draft

Senior year of high school was a blur. It was a time of many “lasts” like last homecoming and prom. It was also a time to spend with friends, and try to maintain good grades while battling the well known “senioritis.” As the year progressed, the awful “senioritis” took its toll; I found it harder and less interesting to work or go to class. I always did it, but the battle was hard. Amidst all this was the thought of going to college. By the end of the year, I had a huge stack of mail with information from many different schools. Schools from different states and private schools, many of which I had never even heard of, kept sending me information. Because of financial reasons and wanting to stay somewhat close to home, I decided that going to school in Florida was best. Since I decided that, whenever I received mail from out-of-state schools, I just looked at the pictures then set it aside.

Every time I received mail from a college or university, my imagination would run wild with ideas about what college life would be like. I thought about different things like the classroom atmosphere, dorm life, and meeting new people, but the most common idea was having a lot more freedom. I always loved my parents and home, but the idea of having freedom fascinated me. My parents weren’t the strictest around, but I definitely had a lot of rules to
follow. I had a curfew, and I always got interrogated before I could go out. For instance, on the night of my senior homecoming dance. Right before I left, my dad pulled me into a room and said, “Don’t come home after midnight.”

Anger built up inside me and I responded, “But Dad, the dance doesn’t even end until midnight. Do you expect me to leave early and miss part of it?!”

My arms were crossed, and I rolled my eyes, showing my frustration. He noticed my body language and let out a big sigh that made his chest noticeably heave.

I continued to argue saying, “What if people invite me somewhere afterwards? Should I be rude and decline their offers? Can’t this night be an exception?”

He finally compromised and said, “Ok, fine, you can stay out later because of the dance. Don’t come back past 1:30, and I mean it.”

The anger inside me made me want to deliberately disobey him, but I knew it was wrong. The consequences did not phase me, but the guilty feeling inside me was not one I wanted to deal with. I came home that night at 1:29 A.M., thinking about how if I was at college, I could still be out having fun with my friends.

Having friends with lenient parents made me jealous. They invited me to many places like the theater to see a late night movie, or the bowling alley for cosmic bowling. Each time, I found myself saying the same thing to them, “I wish I could, but my parents won’t let me stay out that late.”

After awhile, my friends grew tired of asking and getting the same answer. We couldn’t hang out as much, because everyone was busy during the day. Of course, I grew tired of it too, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I continually felt stuck under my parent’s arms.

Their treatment made me feel like a little kid. I thought I was far from a kid. After all, I was going to be a college student soon. To me, college students were definitely not supposed to be treated like that.

My dad would especially try to protect me because I was his little girl. He wanted to keep me away from harm but in doing so, he kept me from enjoying myself. Not to mention, both my parents couldn’t get over their youngest kid growing up and leaving home. Part of me realized why they treated me the way they did and why they were so apprehensive. I knew it was rough for them because my sister broke a lot of rules and disobeyed them many times as a teen. They worried about me following her footsteps and making the same mistakes. Even though I understood, it wasn’t easy to accept or handle. I felt like it was unfair treatment, because my sister and I were different people. Being different people, I didn’t see why they compared us to one another. Besides, I watched her get into trouble so many times that I knew what not to do. I didn’t understand why my parents couldn’t see that. I thought going to college would help me put
that treatment aside.

Since I knew I would be leaving this behind and with a new idea of hope and freedom, I would always try to picture how my life would be away from home. I saw myself staying up late and sleeping in without being hassled to wake up. Hanging out with friends would be awesome,
because I wouldn’t have a curfew or other restrictions regarding where I was allowed to go and whom I was allowed to be with. The words “Where are you going, and who is going to be there? Have fun, but don’t come home late. And don’t forget to call me if you decide to do something else” from my mom and dad’s mouths would be put to silence, and I would be free to do what I pleased.

The thought of doing what I wanted was great. I could leave and come back when I wanted, eat what I wanted, hang out with whomever, and do things like spend the night at friends’ houses which my mom and dad would normally be apprehensive about. Going to college meant that my parents would be too far away to breathe down my neck “for my own good.” With each piece of mail my mind became consumed in all the positive, fun aspects. The serious, responsible side of college hardly crossed my mind. The work and class aspect were shadowed
by the ideas of fun and freedom. As my stack of mail grew, so did my excitement and imagination.

Finally the day came when I received the one piece of mail I had been anticipating. The long process of filling out repetitive applications paid off. My acceptance letter from Florida State arrived. It seemed like forever before I got it. I applied to two other schools, but a letter from Florida State was the only one I cared about. I knew in the back of my mind that I had a good chance of getting accepted, but nervousness still ran through my body. After reading the letter, I ran outside my room to share the news with my parents. The biggest smile graced my face. My mom and dad gave me huge hugs and told me how proud they were. At that moment, I looked at my dad and noticed something strange. Although he was happy for me, I saw deep in his eyes that he wished I would stay closer to home. I felt sad to see him like that, but I knew to choose what would make me the happiest. It was a big decision for me to make, but I figured that he would eventually deal with my choice to move away because he knew it was what I wanted.

All the visions I had of doing what I wanted and having freedom started hitting me even harder, because the days of summer kept slipping through my hands faster and faster. When I wasn’t spending time with my friends, my mom and I were out shopping for my move to
Tallahassee. At times my mother was noticeably excited about shopping for my dorm, but I could still tell she had worries about me, her little girl, living on my own. By hanging out, shopping, packing, and relaxing, the days passed quicker. Before I knew it, the time had come.

My parents and I woke up early in the morning and loaded our truck with all my dorm necessities. The thought of no longer sleeping in my bed or walking down our stairs was strange, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. We started our four and a half hour drive to Tallahassee at about 9 A.M. I looked at our street closely, because I knew it would be a while before I could come back to Clearwater.

When I arrived at about 1:30 P.M., mixed emotions filled my body. I felt nervous about meeting and getting along with my roommate but excited about living on my own for the first time. I couldn’t believe that I was actually here and that I said goodbye to all my friends from back home. My parents stood as long as they could, offering me help with settling in. On their way out my mother turned around and grabbed my hands. I’ll never forget what she told me.

She looked into my eyes and said, “You’ve made us so proud, and we’ll always be here for you. We love you so much.”

When she told me this, I really began to think about how much they actually did things for my own good. Reality set in. All the rules and limitations they set on me were because they wanted me to be safe and responsible. I realized that I would actually miss them guiding me and giving me all they could. Inside I knew I would no longer have that helping hand to quickly fall back on if I needed it. With me four and a half hours away at college, they weren’t going to be right there for me to go to in need.

Ever since I got to college and my parents left, all the fascinating thoughts of fun and freedom have been clouded by all my responsibility. The first week was laid back. Since classes had not started yet, I didn’t have homework. The week was spent watching TV, decorating my dorm room, and familiarizing myself with the campus. After classes started and more weeks passed, I found myself surrounded by piles of homework and cleaning duties. With three Gordon Rule classes, the papers overwhelmed me. At one point, I had four papers due in one week.

Laundry loads and dishes piled up quickly. The work kept coming.I have worked more here than I ever have in my life. In high school I got A’s with little effort, I never had chores around the house, and had so much free time. Now, I have realized that college isn’t just all the freedom and fun I thought it would be. It has made me notice how much I took things for granted when I was home like my mother cleaning up around the house, cooking those homemade meals that I miss so much, and doing my laundry. Being on my own, I have to
balance all these things on top of all the work assigned in my classes and trying to have fun. As much as I have tried to enjoy myself, I don’t think I’ve been as successful as I would like.

Even though I haven’t had as much fun as I would like, I am glad my parents treated me the way they did. If it wasn’t for them, I may not have been able to deal with all the stress of getting everything done. Their phone calls to check-up on me gave me a feeling of calmness.

They sent me care packages that brightened my days and gave me encouragement. The simple words like, “You’ll be fine,” and “We love you” made me feel good inside. It helped me believe that everything was just fine. I learned from them the real meaning of the saying “All work, no play.” By having a curfew before I came to college, I can now manage my time better and get everything done efficiently and well. My classes, although hard, I feel are manageable. The visions I had before I came here definitely changed when I arrived.