Haley Czuma is an opinion columnist for The University Daily Kansan. Hailing from Chicago, Czuma will graduate this month with a degree in English creative writing.
About a month into attending the University of Kansas, I called my mom crying, telling her I felt like I did not belong here. I sat in the parking lot across from my dorm, thinking of every reason under the sun for why I should transfer. I felt like I couldn’t relate to anyone. I felt cagey and landlocked by the Kansas plains that seemed to never end. I decided to stick it out for the semester and revisit the thought come the next semester.
Well, I stuck it out for four years, and I wouldn't have changed it for the world. The truth was I hadn’t found my people or my place when I thought I had. I had only scratched the surface of what this place had to offer for me and looked the other way when I felt like there was nothing else. I was so wrong. KU has brought me so much more than I could have ever thought it would. It brought me a new sense of self and independence, some of my best friends and memories with them, even my dog. It gave me the opportunity to travel to places I have only ever dreamed of being able to go to. More importantly, it gave me a voice through the Kansan.
I have wanted to be a writer since the seventh grade, yet I had always been so timid when it came to actually sharing that dream with the world. I never shared what I wrote unless I had to because I never felt as if it were strong enough to share. When I was approached a year ago by a friend to write for the Kansan, I was almost taken aback. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to write for a publication like the Kansan. It’s given me the chance to voice my unapologetic opinion through an outlet that is so unique in its kind.
I made a vow to myself at the beginning of this year that I would go out even when I didn’t really feel like it, go on weekend trips with friends even if I didn’t really have the money to do it, and be present with those who had impacted my life the most here at KU because this was our last run. I am so happy that I did. I think it is safe to say for everyone, our senior year did not end the way we had all imagined it to end. Leaving KU is so bittersweet; it’s not been all sunshine and butterflies, but it has all been worth it.
I came here with completely different expectations for myself than I am leaving with. Sometimes, it feels like the evolution of me really began here. Never did I think I would be sitting here missing sunsets over the Kansas plains. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey, and thank you to the Kansan for allowing me to run my loud mouth every week. I don’t know where I’m going yet, but I’m on my way there.