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I seem to be in a constant battle between loving my new life of freedom and independence and missing the simplicity of life back home.

After my freshman year of college, I did a lot of self-reflection. I felt that I got so caught up in the city life and my college friends that I shoved my family and hometown under the rug.

I quickly realized that my family and my hometown will be there for me, no matter what.

They will always have my back.

Two of my favorite songs about growing up and nostalgia would be “Butterfly Fly Away” by Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus and “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert.

In “Butterfly Fly Away” some of the lyrics that resonate with me are:

“You had to do it all alone

Make a livin', make a home

Must have been as hard as it could be

And when I couldn't sleep at night

Scared things wouldn't turn out right

You would hold my hand and sing to me.”

As I am typing this, I have a lump in my throat. These lyrics mean so much to me because they describe the way that I have felt ever since I became my own independent person. I now am aware of all these things that are actually hard to do, like making a living and a home away from home. Yet, I often miss the little things like the comfort of my family when I was feeling sad or uncertain.

In Miranda Lambert’s song “The House That Built Me”, these lyrics hit home for me:

“I thought if I could touch this place or feel it

This brokenness inside me might start healing.

Out here it's like I'm someone else,

I thought that maybe I could find myself

If I could just come in I swear I'll leave.

Won't take nothing but a memory

From the house that built me…

You leave home, you move on and you do the best you can.

I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am.”

I used to dread coming home on weekends and even holiday breaks. This was not because I didn’t love my family or enjoy their presence, but because I hated my hometown. I missed the city. I missed my new “home.”

After self-reflection, however, I realized that I can also love my home that I grew up in because it made me who I am today. I love going upstairs to my childhood bedroom, hopping in my bed, and waking up to my mother’s breakfast and my siblings’ arguing voices – it is an inexplainable feeling of warmth and affection that you cannot get anywhere else.

“I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am.”

That is something that I vow to never do again; to never allow myself to get caught up in the world to the point where I do not call my family and my loved ones to chat and to check on them. They are the people who I love and who love me so much.

Now when I come home, I take in every second. One day, my siblings will be older and have their own lives, my parents will be gone and there will be another family in the “house that built me.”

Nostalgia and self-reflection are beautiful things, and I highly recommend everyone to engage in them from time to time.

Always keep your family and hometown in your heart. They are the ones who truly love and care about you. They are so important.

Do not let this world sweep you away – stay in touch with who you are to your core.

Love those who love you, love those around you, and love yourself.