This time next week, I will be back in the state that for 18 years, I called “home.” It was the place I grew up, where most of my extended family still lives, where pretty much everyone who knew me growing up still lives, and where my old life lives.

Old life? Yes, my old life. I am clearly, especially looking back on Timehop and Facebook’s On This Day, not the same person I was when I left Massachusetts five years ago. Shoot, I’m not even really the same person I was when I left Virginia a year ago. Moving from my comfort zone has really impacted me the best way it possibly could. Being a homebody and stuck in my own little world would not have been good for me, and I knew that five years ago when I was deciding on where I wanted to go to college. I knew from the bottom of my heart that there was more to life outside of the New England area. I knew that if I didn’t get out then, I most likely never would. That’s what college is all about; moving to a new place where basically no one knows you and try to find out who you are in this crazy world. If I didn’t see the world, then who was I to know my place in it?

Was I teased when I told people I wanted to move 12 hours away? Unfortunately, yes. Being from a small town, you don’t really know too many that actually leave the small town. Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with that. I still wish that I could go back to my childhood home every holiday season. To those who get to do that, you are very lucky. But I don’t, and that’s ok. I made my choice, my parents made their choice, and it has all worked out for the better. Being teased wasn’t so great, but I knew that I wanted to achieve great things, and that had to begin by getting out of my comfort zone.

Going back to that old comfort zone, to be completely honest with you, is terrifying. A lot has happened over the last five years. There have been family things that I haven’t really had to face head on because I was so far away. There are friends that I used to be so close with and really aren’t as close with anymore because it got harder and harder to be in contact since I hadn’t seen them in so long. I feel like a snake when they change their skin and leave it where they once were. I’m in new skin, with new opinions, with a new life, and it’s weird.

I don’t know what to expect when I go back. All I’m really hoping for is a peaceful, enjoyable trip and that my anxiety stays in check. Hopefully I’ll get to see some old friends. But, the main purpose of even going in the first place is for my mother, so she can have some support up there. And for my grandmother, who is celebrating a birthday milestone.

I plan on making a follow-up post for after my trip, hence why this one is called “before.”