What a photo story taught me about “normal”

By Will Barksdale | Multimedia Journalist

Family is everything. Although I have always been close with my family, I was reminded of this fact over the last month more than ever. For the last several weeks, I have been working on a photo story that describes the experience of an unexpected blessing for my two friends in the form of their two baby boys, Hayden and Ashton, during their freshman year at Baylor. I knew Paige and Andrew well, but it was still early in our friendship when we were forced to part ways and go our separate ways in life.

They started a family and began raising two amazing boys, all while surrounded by family and those they loved. While they were creating a life for themselves and their twins, I was at Baylor living a normal college life, with ramen and roommates, the whole nine yards. Once you become accustomed to a routine over a long period of time, it creates a sense of normalcy that was never there before.

For example, eating an entire frozen pizza by yourself while watching an episode of Family Guy and simultaneously studying Quizlet flashcards for a test you have in an hour (just me?), all while listening to your upstairs neighbors stomp on the floor like a pack of wild animals with bricks for feet (definitely just me) is not a normal circumstance, but it eventually becomes the new norm while going through the “college experience.”

This new normal that I have become so used to over the last two and a half years all of a sudden came crashing down for me, for the better, when I invested my time into a new family that had changed so much since the last time we had been together.

Stability is a form of culture shock that most college students only experience when they go home for the summer or during holiday breaks. Never did I expect to come back to my apartment at the end of the day and not have something weird or stressful waiting for me.

When visiting my friends, life actually seemed normal. Not a normal that transcends reality. No, a normal that allows your stress to fall away and a long sigh to escape from your mouth. The soft light of a house, babies crying in the distance, and sitting down to a hot meal with the comfort of friends who care about you and each other surprisingly does a lot to you. It’s an odd feeling to live a compartmentalized life as an “out-of-stater” who only can go home maybe once a semester and then find that same stable home feeling only 20 minutes away from campus in a form one would never expect.

Not everyone can find family in the common sense of the word, but I encourage everyone to look for stability in any form they can because it will most likely change your time in college for the better. The entire experience was bewildering and filled with the entertainment only twin babies can bring. Thank you Andrew and Paige for not only being my inspiration for a story told through pictures, but also in all aspects of my life.