Anyone who has talked to me for more than five minutes knows I am from Iowa. I am proud of my Iowa heritage, and I talk about it a lot. But for me, Iowa is more than just the place I am from — it is home. I was lucky to be able to grow up in a place that I can still call home. When I think of Iowa I think of family, laughter, and love. Iowa has taught me the importance of finding somewhere that makes you feel safe and happy. Home is more than a house in which you live or a state where you grew up. Home can be as big as a state or as small as your favorite chair. It is a place where you can go and always know it will make you feel a little better.
I have spent the last few years of my life searching for a home wherever I am. I work to find somewhere where I can feel comfortable, where I can go when I feel sad and know that I will feel safe there.
Like most people, I have a lot of really good days and a lot of really bad days. Recently, I have been trying to do some more reflecting and see if I can find patterns in my good and bad days. I have found that the times I am most happy tend to be in some of the same environments and with the same people. I seem to be the definition of a homebody. I like to find where I am comfortable and stay there, but finding where you are comfortable isn’t always easy.
When I first arrived at Swarthmore, I struggled to find these places. I struggled to find some place where I could go to feel welcomed and comfortable. At first I tried McCabe Second. I felt like a library was a good mix of a welcoming yet productive space. Despite my many efforts to make myself into a McCabe person, I found that not only did I not feel comfortable in the library but my inability to get comfortable mentally or physically prevented me from being productive. It took me approximately my first three semesters at Swarthmore to realize that I was not a McCabe kind of person. I could not study there, and I definitely could not relax there.
By the time my sophomore spring rolled around, I had finally accepted the fact that I could not turn myself into a McCabe person. I spent the semester trying to turn myself into a room-studier. Not only was it the least productive semester at Swarthmore, but I also ruined my room as a place where I could relax.
After two years at Swarthmore I still had not found my home on campus. I had not found that comfortable, welcoming, productive space that I craved so much. Then I realized that I would never be able to find it all in one place on campus.
I have found that for me, there are three kinds of places that I need to make me happy. My first home is a private space, for me usually my bed. Wherever I am I make sure that my bed is like a home to me, with lots of pillows and blankets and, of course, a comfortable mattress pad.
I like to have a semi-public place like a newsroom where I know I can go and be near people. And finally, I like to have a public place, like a coffee shop, where I can go and know there will always be someone there who can make me feel safe and supported.
Finding a place that you can call home is important. Home is more than just a house in which you sleep. It is the coffee shop where the barista knows your name. It is the lounge where you can always find a friendly face. It is the workspace where you know you can always be productive. It is the bed that you can cry in when you need to. Where you choose to spend your time can play a big role in how you feel and how productive you are. Everyone’s experience on Swarthmore’s campus is unique, and I encourage everyone to spend some time thinking about why they spend time in the places they do, and if it is really somewhere that makes them happy.