i took a trip to denver on wednesday. as i was driving to a meeting, through the neighborhood i lived in while in college, i thought a lot about that particular time in my life. i thought about the experience i had while in college - living on my own, in my own apartment in capital hill and honestly how lucky i am that nothing completely crazy happened to me at that time in my life. i didn't really have the typical college experience. i didn't live in a dorm, i didn't gain the freshmen 15 (in fact i lost weight from all the walking i did) and i didn't party. i attended the art institute of colorado, located just to the south of downtown, and lived just a few blocks away. if you are at all familiar with denver, you know that this is just a couple of block over from 13th and also from colfax - a very colorful and some might say not overly safe part of town to be in as an 18 year old small town girl. but, i loved it. i loved the independence and i loved the hours of walking i did - just observing and taking everything in. from the vast array of characters walking around and riding the busses to the historic architecture to the interesting and odd little shops scattered about. it was definitely different from the small town i grew up in. being in this kind of atmosphere, one would probably assume that i could have gotten myself into plenty of trouble. i, however, did exactly what i came there to do and that was to work hard and be successful in school. i did not drink or do drugs, i did not participate in anything illegal, i did not get myself into any sketchy circumstances. i was, as i always had been, a pretty straight arrow. i do look back and think i probably could have let loose a little and enjoyed myself a bit more. i realize i don't really have many photos of myself at this time, other than the one above of my mom visiting me one winter in the basement apartment i lived in when i was almost finished with school. although i probably could have led a bit of a different life at that time, i realize now that it was because of my work ethic, instilled in me from a young age, that i had a lot of successes in college. would i do it differently if i had it to do all over again???? maybe. maybe i would have tried to have just a little more fun. but i still would have put in just as much effort and worked just as hard....because that's how my parents raised me. those are the things they taught me. and for this, i am grateful. i worry sometimes about the way younger people act and the entitlement issues i see. it is something you see often in the college environment. i feel lucky to have parents who did set boundaries, who did have high expectations for me regarding respect, work ethic and responsibility - not because they wanted to punish me (which i might have thought was the case a few times while growing up) but because they loved me so much. i only hope, now that i am a parent, i can raise a daughter with a strong set of standards and moral compass, who is proud to be an individual and also knows how to let loose and enjoy life a bit more than i have at times.
i have driven through this part of denver so many times since i actually lived there and went to college. but, this was the first time those memories came flooding back to me and i truly recognized how lucky i am to have parents like i do - who trusted me and loved me enough to let me go and be on my own to gain this new independence. i learned so much about myself during that time and it was an amazing experience that i will cherish my entire life.