Myioshi Williams hasn’t lived at home since she was 14 years old.

“One of the biggest things for me is being hit with that realization that I’ve been away from home for 6 years, and that I’ll never be going back,” she said.

At the age of 20, Myioshi has had experiences that some just a few years older than her haven’t. She’s figured out how to live her life independently of her parents, how to properly care for herself and maintain focus. 

Myioshi’s habits haven’t just come from her couple of years at university, but also from her four years at boarding school.  Through her time living away from home, she’s learned how to do that, while also living authentically to who she truly is.

Adjusting to a New City at 14-years-old

Myioshi left home at 14 to attend boarding school at Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts. She was born in Miami, FL but grew up in Houston, TX. Going to a new state proved to be a huge adjustment, and challenged the principles she grew up on.

“The northeast is extremely fast paced. Not many people in the city are personable, as they are strictly about handling their business,” she explained.   

Back home in Houston, she would always address everyone older than her as “ma’am” or “sir.”

“That was a huge culture shock for me when I got to Andover; I was one of the only ones calling the adults in the community ma’am and sir,” she said. “This was one of the many things that gave away I was from the south. Even though assimilation presented itself many times, I found a way to stay true to myself whether it was through seeing the impact I had on those around me, or simple reminders from my mom or dad.”

Her experience at Phillips Academy was one she’ll never forget. With trips abroad and learning new languages, leaving home at 14 was worth it.

“I faced challenges one after the other, but I grew to learn that anything worth attaining in life requires overcoming difficulty,” Myioshi said. “Some of my teachers became parents away from home, and friends became like siblings. Because of everything Andover has done for me, I dedicate the end of my summers to give back to them by working as a house counselor, dance coach, and teaching assistant.”

While living away, Myioshi learned habits that kept her head afloat. 

“One of the largest factors that played into my adjustment was the people I surrounded myself with, most of who ended up becoming my family away from home,” she said. “Something else that contributed to my adjustment was my level of communication with my parents, which still remains the same. When I first got to boarding school, I would speak to them about three times a day, but it eventually became a constant routine that I spoke to my dad in the mornings and my mom in the evenings.”

Living Authentically While in College

Whereas it was easier to navigate her own direction in high school, stepping into college became a different ball game. Myioshi is an exercise and sports science major, minoring in Chinese and chemistry. She likens the whole college experience to a stressful race.

“College can definitely be a distraction, and sometimes, I feel like it’s just this crazy system put in place to intentionally throw you off your path, and eventually put you in a void,” she said.  “It’s like you’re in this environment where everyone starts off a different color, standing out as individuals, running their own race. Then, all of those around you start becoming the same color and joining the same lane as someone else, or simply burning out in attempt to catch up to the pace everyone else is running their race at.”

Myioshi said the pressure can add up, especially if you feel like you’re lagging in the “college race”.

“It can be a great deal of pressure because sometimes, without even noticing, it’s easy to question if you were supposed to change lanes like everyone else did or wanting to because another lane seems quicker,” she said. “You basically get to place knowing exactly what you want to do, you meet others who have similar aspirations, but then all of a sudden, they decide they no longer have a desire to because they don’t have the time or it’s simply too difficult.”

 Throughout her experience during her time at college and living on her own, Myioshi believes that staying true to yourself is the best way to go.

“The most important thing for me was staying true to myself regardless of circumstance,” she said. “That’s something that might be difficult to do, especially if one is still on the journey of finding themselves. One of the biggest things that helps me is taking time for myself and doing what I thoroughly enjoy whether that’s reading, writing poetry, or drawing. I stay focused on my main goal by distracting myself with things that improve my mental health and  contribute to my inner growth.” 

Myioshi’s Tips for Succeeding in College

1. It’s okay to get homesick. If you’re living away from home, it’s natural. The way you handle it makes all the difference.

“I do get homesick from time to time, much less than I did years ago,” Myioshi said. “While I keep going back to speaking with my parents on a regular basis, this was something that really impacted my time away because it often felt like they were actually present. I also just do my best to make the environment around me feel like home, whether it’s planning an impactful program for my residents or having a potluck with my friends.”

2. Value your relationship with your parents. You may be happy and free to be away from them, but chances are…you’ll miss them.

“Value your relationship with your parents and strive to keep that line of communication open,” Myioshi said. “While sometimes you may not want to hear what they have to say, they know much better than we do, as they’ve walked in our shoes.”

 3. Have a backup plan. While you may see things going excellently in your mind, that’s not always the case. Have a backup plan in mind in the slim chance things don’t work out.

“I believe having a back up plan is always important because things will not always work out the way you want them to,” Myioshi said. “All happens by God’s Will and Permission, so before anything, it’s always essential to place all trust in Him.” 

4. Be authentic to who you are. It’s easy to get lost in the college race. But if you pay attention to your path and your own finish line, you’ll realize there’s no one else to compete with.

“I believe one of the most important things for people, especially at this age, is realizing the power of authenticity and how meaningful it is to be authentic,” Myioshi said. “You don’t have to have it all together, but you do have to be real with yourself. It’s okay to sometimes not know where you’re going, as long as the direction is forward. Learn how to accept where you are, and no matter where that is, to strive to achieve your goals even if there is some doubt occasionally.”

5. Don’t forget to care for yourself. If not you, then who? 

“It’s imperative that you look out and care for yourself first, because if you don’t care for yourself it’s not possibly to thoroughly do the same for others,” Myioshi said. “Run YOUR race, but at your own pace and most importantly, trust God, his process, and his plan, for he is the best knower.” 

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