Four years of college will change a person. I feel like I change every semester. Those experiences I have faced these past four years have all been so different and the locations have too. Living in a new space each year has been reflective of these moments and each place holds those changes and memories within it. They are all so different and beautifully necessary.
Thinking back to the different homes I’ve had in college, I think back to who I was in that space: what occupied my mind, what stressed me out, what routine I had, who I would spend my time with, what I faced and what I went through. Walls and furniture become a reflection back to who I was. The bed becomes a binge-watching spot, a place to silently cry, a midday nap, a place to be alone after social days. The desk becomes a pregame to the pregame, a facetime area, a zoom call. I can see my experiences in the space I slept and feel how different I see it all now versus then. Places have power and impact, particularly in college. They all hold significance and power specific to them. These are mine.
In the beginning, I was so scared to be alone. Coming home was now to a dorm with people I didn’t know. I felt homesickness and had to learn to adapt to new schedules in a new environment. It taught me patience. I learned things through trial and error. Being in tough situations and finding ways to overcome them. I learned how to start new here and to find my foundation. I made best friends and lost some. I learned that you don’t have to be friends with everyone. I learned the power of small talk. I experimented and had to find what works for me. I didn’t completely find that until the very end, but a lot of my moments in Seton were my beginning.
I started out comfortable and felt I already had a place here. I’d say hi to people on campus and they’d say hi back. I had friendships and knew my way. Here I had the fondest memories of going out and dancing. Going to parties and seeing friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Going to the diner late before it closed and waking up slowly the next morning. I lived so freely and had fun that I will never forget. It was a fun that was specific to Berg and nowhere else. I started dating for the first time and fell in love there. I thought I knew myself then, but I learned I didn’t know myself at all.
I hit a lot of highs that shadowed with lows. I loved the people I was with and the confidence I felt. But the pressure of finding balancing in making everyone happy left me at my most anxious. I was unhappy about being happy. I was scared to confess what I wanted. I felt like everyone hated me sometimes, but I learned to find ways to focus on what I wanted. I discovered how to stand my ground and not feel sorry for choosing my own idea of happiness. I became addicted to fighting my anxiety and went as far as to sign up to study in Ireland alone the next semester.
I became more extroverted than ever. I never felt so much love in such a large group of people. It was so easy to be myself and easier to be alone than I expected. I learned just how independent I can be and how much I am capable of. I learned the strengths I have with my relationships at home and how much love and care they show me through everything. I felt homesickness that was different than others. I felt safety in strangers. I learned a lot about myself and that sometimes everything can be good just because. This semester was most dream-like of them all. Once covid hit and we were sent back to America, it was reality again. Not a bad reality, but just different.
Clark taught me what adulthood could be like. I was so grateful to have parents that provided all these places and opportunities for me through these years. Because of them I was able to live in a house with best friends. This house taught me to enjoy cooking. Taught me how lovely my own room is for my mental health. I got to explore decorating and bringing people over to hangout. I got used to going to restaurants instead of house parties. The pandemic taught me how lucky I am to have such a good group of friends to live with and laugh with. We had a lot of living room movie sessions and group dinners. Adult sleepovers and hallway gossip sessions. Switching from room to room and running into each other in the bathroom. This house was the best send off to the real world. The best place to spend our last year together and the hardest place to say goodbye to.
I’ve learned peace in my body and strength in my mind. Vulnerability is okay and saying what I believe is okay too. These places all became homes in their own ways. Each space reflected a different journey and each journey took directions I was never prepared for. The next step is the most unknown it has ever been, but that could be the most necessary part.