Luigi Battaglioli

Embracing Unfamiliarity

Written by Luigi Battaglioli · 08/11/2019

I grew up, for most of my life, in Duanesburg. When I was in 10th grade however, my family decided it was a good idea to move a little bit closer to civilization, so we headed to Burnt Hills. When I first heard the news that we were moving, I was terrified of the idea.

We lived in a house that my grandpa built from the ground up, and lived in for a long time. My grandparents both died before I was born so I obviously never got to meet them, and I felt like that house was almost the only connection that I had to them. My dad was also attached to it, since he was the youngest of his siblings and had to see both of his parents die at a fairly young age.

We had about 50 acres of beautiful woods that I grew up playing in. We had a little spring hidden away in the woods, we had four wheeler trails, ponds, animals, and the works. It was my favorite thing about living up there, and it was in my own back yard. Now my back yard looks much like a dirt patch (those damn moles keep digging it up) and it certainly lacks hidden springs and four wheeling trails.

This is a bird I found chillin' outside my house when I lived in Duanesburg. He was cool, and very photogenic I must say.

This is a bird I found chillin' outside my house when I lived in Duanesburg. He was cool, and very photogenic I must say.

I knew every inch of that house like the back of my hand and it's totally gone now, occupied by complete strangers.

It felt even weirder moving to a completely new school and leaving behind all of the people I grew up with. I moved midyear so I just showed up out of nowhere. I remember my first day at my new school like it was yesterday, and I felt so out of place, and I felt like everyone was staring at me. I wanted so badly to return back to the comfort of my old house, the people I knew, and the life I was used to. I wanted to go back to something familiar. I hated it at first, but by the end of 10th grade, I had opened up and met a lot of people and was actually relatively happy.

In retrospect, I realized that I wasn't truly happy in Duanesburg. I lived on top of a mountain, and I felt really isolated. While I knew almost everyone in the community, I still felt like I was totally alone. I felt like I didn't have many close friends, I felt kind of like an outcast, and I felt like I was constantly surrounded by the negativity of my parents fighting. I struggled with my mental health for a large part of my adolescent life, and still continue to struggle with it.

Having said that, moving to Burnt Hills had forced me to experience so much. On the first day of school there, the first person I met, I later fell in love with, and eventually broke my heart. I learned so many new things, took a bunch of cool classes, and had so many more opportunities than I could have ever dreamed of in Duanesburg. I took a bunch of cool AP classes, and pursued the things that interested me most. I had a lot of amazing teachers who have impacted my life so much. Heck, I even got the opportunity to go show off an app I built to Congress in Washington DC, all thanks to my computer science teacher exposing me to the Congressional App Challenge. I could have never done that if I hadn't been given that opportunities I had at Burnt Hills. Most importantly though, I made some real friends, who actually wanted to do things with me. I finally, for once in my life, felt like I belonged somewhere, and I was happy.

Fast forward a couple years, and I've since graduated from high school. I'm off to college, where I'm going to immersed in a bunch of people I've never met before. I'll be in a completely foreign and unfamiliar environment. I've come to realize that most everything in life is tentative, and subject to change. I realized that my life is going to change and flip upside down many more times in my life. I'm thankful however that I experienced this at a fairly young age. Even though it screwed with my mental health, it got me prepared for life in general and the rollercoaster that it is. Whether it be getting a new job, or moving to a totally different state, everything is dynamic in life and I've finally started to embrace that.

I've realized the beauty of change and why it's a good thing to have in life. I can't really imagine doing the same thing, day in and day out, in the same place, surrounded by the same people. As much of an introvert as I am, I still love meeting new people, sharing ideas, and talking about things that interest and excite me. I want to travel around, do the things that make me happy, and fulfill my urge to make cool things.