Finding a Space You Didn't Know You Needed

Starting college and moving away from home includes an onslaught of changes. You get more freedom than you’ve likely ever had, you get to make new friends, you get to try new things, you get to take different classes and pick a major, and you get to live in a new place. Aspects of moving are exciting as you pick out your dorm decorations and get to live with, or very near, your best friends, but of course there are negative aspects, as well. Living in close quarters with a new person comes with challenges and moving away from your family can produce waves of seemingly unbearable homesickness, but one negative aspect I never realized until recently was the loss of space.

Above: University of Notre Dame taken from CommonApp​

I don’t necessarily mean space in the physical sense, although that is a challenge. I mean metaphorical spaces. Last semester, I started hosting a radio show at Notre Dame’s student run radio station, WVFI. I chose music to play each week and then broadcasted it over the internet, but when I started the show, I didn’t realize how much I needed it. I love music and I love to sing but without a car on campus, I had lost that space in my life. I can’t really listen to music without headphones anymore without disturbing others and people tend to give you weird looks if you walk across campus belting TSwift. The radio station gave that space in my life back to me as I sat down, by myself, in a soundproof room every week to listen to my music. I got time to soak in the songs that are important to me through actual speakers while also singing along where no one could hear me. Since then, I’ve continued doing the radio show and have even brought on a friend as a weekly guest host (and I’m pleased to announce that he has found the radio station to be a nice space in his life as well.)

The other space that I’ve recently discovered was missing from my life is a living room. I moved into a Quad this year and we have a nice common room with several couches, a fridge, and a TV where my roommates and I spend most of our time. I love being able to come home after a long day and curl up on the couch or kick off my shoes and not immediately have to put them away for fear of tripping over them. (Shoutout to my roommates for letting me leave empty mugs, la croix cans, several pairs of shoes, and at least two textbooks in our common room at all times) I love sharing a common space with people I love and who love me and I love being able to have room to breathe. As I opened my door to our common room the other day and saw a blanket bunched up on the couch where someone had just been laying down and a dirty mug near the Keurig, I felt a sense of peace and joy that this was a place that was lived-in. This was a space where people came together and laughed and cried and loved and felt comfortable.

Above: Our common room aka my happy place (photo taken by author)

Most of these  were spaces I had not realized were missing from my life until they were reintroduced in some way. So, I hope that I continue to find the spaces I need. Maybe even realize what I’m missing and intentionally seek those spaces out instead of just stumbling upon them.


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