Changes Theme week

Quarantine: Reflections on Growth and Living at Home

Living at home, as any college student will know, always feels strange when you’ve been away at school for months on end. While I love spending time watching rom coms with my mom and taking long walks with my dogs, there’s also this overwhelming feeling that I have somehow outgrown my beloved home during my time away. Every time I come back to New Hampshire for a break I’m bringing a wealth of new knowledge and experiences that are continuously molding my sense of self and world into something new and unique. Yet… my hometown never seems different from my days climbing trees as a child and going on sporadic drives for ice cream as a teenager. As my town is unchanged from my memories of growing up, I can’t help but feel as though I no longer fit in with this place that nurtured me and which I hold so dear to my heart.

 

This feeling often makes it difficult for me to stay at home for long stretches of time, as I quickly become restless and long for the freedom, intellectual challenges, and close friendships I have found at St. Mike’s. As my younger siblings pick fights at the dinner table and I pick up take-out orders from the local pizzeria I worked at in high school, I often feel as though I’m regressing back into the person I was before college. I quickly become irritated with my siblings and escape to my room after dinner. I make awkward small talk with my former coworkers at the pizzeria while they make the same complaints about management and customers that I used to share with them during my Friday night shifts.

 

However, now that I am home for at least a month (and probably for the remainder of the semester if we’re being honest with ourselves), I’m starting to realize that I will have to eventually work through this discomfort and restlessness. Everything is shut down, so there’s no way for me to leave, and staying at home is the only way to protect our country’s health for the time being. Thus, I am confronted with the million-dollar question of the month: How do I make space for myself to continue growing in a place that feels too old?

 

If there is one thing I’ve come to realize from my two weeks and counting at home, it’s that nothing is going to get easier if I continue to mope over the abrupt end to the semester; this has only made me feel worse about an already depressing situation. At this point, my only option is to make peace with the situation, which will require a dramatic shift in mindset as I learn to appreciate home for its beautiful, mundane familiarity. There’s something inexplicably soothing about waking up to the smell of coffee as my dog leaps into my bed to say good morning (she’s currently napping at my feet as I write this article). I’ve also greatly underestimated how lovely it feels to shower without wearing flip flops. Above all else, the best thing for me to do at home is to appreciate static, unchanging things in new and unique ways. As much as I love living with my very loud best friends at school, I’m really enjoying my time at home to sit quietly in my room and read without distraction. After spending the past year studying environmental literature in several of my English courses, I’ve now developed a much deeper adoration for the tall pine trees and skittish chipmunks I encounter on my daily walks and hikes. While nothing has necessarily changed at home during my time in college, the ways in which I exist with these seemingly mundane aspects of home life are always changing as my sense of self and world are growing. There is always something new and beautiful to be loved about home as each of us grows into our own person at college.

 

Self pitying and bitterness towards the world in these trying times are easy rabbit holes to fall down, and they are traps that I am fighting every single day since leaving campus. However, knowing that the situation will not get easier any time soon, I am doing my best to soak up every minute of dog walks, family dinners, and quiet mornings sipping coffee that I possibly can. I hope that those of you who are at home right now can do the same.