In Defense of Not Missing Home

The month is March. The mood is dire. The messes are evident. Yes, the times prior to Spring Break are desperate ones. In the midst of midterms and travel plans, it is easy to submit to the mentality that everyone is excited to get away from campus, to visit family, to go home. I’m here to open up the perspective that goes unheard: sometimes, “home” is not a home at all; sometimes, home is a house full of toxic people and toxic memories. And sometimes, even that is all you really have—and it can be terrifying.

I was just as stressed as every other person on campus in the time leading up to Spring Break, but for me, there was no real light at the end of the tunnel. I do not have the financial means to go home, and I don’t feel that I would want to if given the choice. Even staying on campus is not necessarily “fun.” It gets lonely and, in my case, it forces me to confront how happy the people around me are. I start to wonder if I will ever stop feeling the limitations that my trauma places on me. I feel choked by it. Held down, even. Even my metaphors cannot escape its clutches.

I know this is the case for other students on campus. Toxic home environments (or, if I’m being honest with myself, abusive home environments), are all too common on this campus—and, ultimately, in this nation. I do not recommend that we all start sharing our deepest, darkest secrets, but I think that students who have the privilege of going home and feeling safe need to step around their own perceptions to realize that there are definitely students on this campus who do not.

In my time at Kenyon, I have noticed that there is an illusion of a “bubble” surrounding us that separates us from the outside world. While we are separated from Knox County, and Ohio, and other areas of the United States, we are still deeply affected by national issues. Being on a liberal arts campus does not remove the presence of violence or bigotry. The statistics of violence in our nation are scary, but they are not as frightening as the realization that they represent real people. People that you know. People that you share a class with. Many, many more people who you will never interact with at all. And they’re all present. They all just want to have a safe space. I want Kenyon to be a safe space. I stay on campus during breaks because I consider this my home. I know this is the case for others like me. But this analogy brings up the question of roommates (or, in some cases, family). I want us to be roommates who are conscious of each other’s struggles and work to maintain an environment that does not make presumptions of personal background and mental health. Until then, I will rest in my room, play some music, and try to make my voice heard from this (relatively) safe place in the world.

 

Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2, 3