Normally, I have a lot of anxiety about talking on the phone. I get scared that I won’t be able to hear the person on the other end, or that I won’t know the answer to their questions. I try to avoid phone calls at all costs. But my parents are one of the few exceptions. I believe in calling my parents every day, especially while I’m away from home.
I am a homebody and I always have been. I would leave sleepovers late at night in middle school because I wanted to come home and sleep in my own bed. When it came to applying to colleges, I knew I wanted to go far enough that I could grow and become independent. But I also wanted to stay close enough that I could come home on the weekends when I wanted to. Since Penn State is three hours from home, I knew I could make this work. My parents were extremely supportive in my decision and prepared me as best they could.
Still, freshman year was especially rough for me. There was so much change in such a short amount of time; it was like I was thrown into the wild and had to fend for myself while also managing schoolwork and making new friends. There were times when I thought I wouldn't be able to make it. My parents had been my primary support system while I was growing up, and not having them at school with me took a toll. I thought I would be able transform into this independent young woman, doing things for myself and “adulting” (as I call it). But I hadn’t talked to my parents in over 3 weeks, and I felt like I didn’t have that support system anymore. I began to doubt my abilities and only leave my dorm room to attend class.
One day, I got a call from my mom. I answered on the brink of tears, and she asked, “Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” That was all it took to open the floodgates. Hearing her soothing voice on the other end of the line allowed me to express my worries and clear my mind. She was able to calm me down and comfort me, even from a distance. Shortly after that call, I got another. This time it was my dad’s voice on the other end. Once again, I broke into tears. In that moment, when I closed my eyes, it felt like I was home having a normal conversation with him. Those two phone calls helped me realize I could make it on my own, knowing my parents were only a phone call away.
Now, I make it a point to call my parents at least once every few days, and whenever I’m feeling down. They always know what to say and how to soothe me. I catch them up on my accomplishments and life at school, and they give me updates on what’s happening at home. If I hadn’t gotten those calls from them my freshman year, I don’t know if I’d still be here at Penn State pursuing my dreams. I now know my parents are still there for me even when we aren’t physically together, and they’ll always be with me wherever I go.
I believe in calling my parents, because they’re my biggest fans. Without them, I truly don't know where I would be today.
Essayist Katelyn Smith is a junior at Penn State majoring in nursing.