Medford Mom: John Green was wrong

Aiden Menchaca / The Tufts Daily

“I’m never, ever, ever, going to Tufts, mom.” 

I uttered these words one weekday afternoon in my family’s kitchen during my senior year of high school. It was late March, and I was sitting at our breakfast nook, anxiously awaiting the moment when my email inbox would light up with a notification that would change the course of my life. I had applied to seven colleges: two Ivy Leagues, plus a handful of those classic New England liberal arts colleges. One of those was Tufts, which just happened to be in the same zip code in which I had spent my entire life. 

I didn’t want to go to college in my hometown. I thought it went against the “I’m not like other girls” image I tried to maintain in high school. I wanted desperately to be like those manic pixie dream girls I read about in John Green novels, who were too cool and too smart and too destined for something bigger to stay in the town they were raised in — those girls who were able to run away from it all and start a new life in a new city and have it all figured out by the age of 18.

I’m not that girl. I never will be. I am very much like other girls (and am proud to be). I definitely don’t have it all figured out, but I am still cool and smart and destined for big things. I don’t know why I thought it was so uncool to love the place where I grew up, but I do. I love Medford, and I’m proud to be from here. This is where my roots are, and as someone who has her head in the clouds more often than she should, those roots ground me in important ways. 

For a combination of reasons, I ultimately chose to go to Tufts. It was the right choice and a privileged one at that. I’m so grateful for the four years I’ve had here, growing and learning and getting to know and love the woman I’m becoming. I’m also grateful that my mom made me apply here four years ago: It was a stroke of maternal wisdom for which I haven’t thanked her enough.

What I’m most grateful for is the fact that my time at Tufts has only made me love my hometown more. That’s what this column will be about: An expression of gratitude for the place I call home and a recounting of some of the stories and experiences I’ve had during my time at Tufts that make this place feel even more like home. Such deep reflection will require a level of vulnerability and honesty that unnerves me, but as a college senior on the verge of an uncertain future, I’m ready to be brave in the only way I know how: by sharing my truth. 

Ultimately, this column will, in some way, be love letters to that 17-year-old girl who committed to Tufts almost four years ago. I want her to know she made the right choice and that everything she was looking for — despite what John Green told her —  was only ever 2.7 miles away from that breakfast nook. I’m hoping I can make her proud.