One huge reason I wanted to come to the University was because of the beautiful scenery surrounding Grounds. Despite the University being academically challenging, I’m able to find solace in many places and moments that are created by the beauty of not only the natural world around me, but the community I surround myself with.
On a nice temperate day, it's been quite relaxing to lay out on the Lawn and unwind. Whether I’m with friends or by myself, there’s something about simply being outside, feeling the grass underneath my feet and observing others around me that is so therapeutic. At such a central place on Grounds, I see so much happening — groups of friends laughing, dogs greeting one another in passing, cool outfits worn by cool people I don’t know and of course, the gorgeous view of the Rotunda gleaming at the very center. I take all of this in as I sit in my own comfortable spot atop my crochet blanket shaded by a nearby tree. Ideally, I’d also have my two Bodo's bagels here — one everything bagel with sausage, egg and cheese and another plain bagel with cinnamon sugar and butter.
There are a limitless number of sensorial perceptions that I love to take note of around Grounds. The actual view and sensual experience of nature, for example, is mesmerizing to me at times — the luscious scent of the flower-covered bushes I walk past everyday, the feeling of the sun pouring onto my skin and absorbing into my being, spotting a squirrel chomping on an acorn grasped between its two little paws, hearing the sweet and angelic chirp of birds welcoming spring on my walk to class. All such experiences may contribute to my day in a seemingly small way, but it's their existence which makes me feel happy and appreciative of life overall.
Much of my other time spent on Grounds when I’m not outside is spent in class. My studies are something I find different joys in completely, but that may become intertwined with the nature surrounding me to enhance my overall learning experience. It’s a great feeling being able to stay focused for the entirety of a lecture because I find the topic genuinely interesting. It’s the same for readings that, at times, I may dread, but nonetheless end up providing me with new revelations and often allow me to make a little more sense of life — this experience is a small joy I find in the task of completing my class readings. Then, going out into the world following a depth-defying lecture on the history of literature in English or finishing a reading that brings me new perspectives to consider as I carry out my day, nature is invited to help cement these thoughts into my mind. I think and ponder new concepts everywhere. While I’m walking, sitting in the amphitheater, having lunch out in one of the many gardens. Even remembering all of the hard work it’s taken to get to the point I’m at now as a student is an inspiring achievement in and of itself that I may find joy in.
Spending time with friends or rejoicing in some peaceful alone time is always rewarding when I’m not busy at work. Whether I run into one of my friends coincidentally or we plan to meet up, my friends allow me to feel at home here. I find joy in creating bonds with people who introduce me to new ways of thinking and feeling everyday. I learn to grow with them, and there’s something very special about being interconnected by our shared experience at the University. I have made great connections in clubs I’m a part of like The Washington Society and Indieheads, and have even made a few fateful connections with friends in classes over the course of this school year.
Memories made with my friends carry into my present state and act to remind me even during tough times that there are more joyous experiences to come. I often reminisce on instances like hearing Good Morning and Cougar Beatrice play at The Southern Music Hall downtown. Meeting new friends at the Indieheads house shows and singing along to songs, everyone in high spirits. Making absurd conversation about random items found at the local thrift store.
So even when I’m by myself, all of these memories and so many more allow me to feel immense joy not just in the moment, but later on when I recall memories back to my mind. Carrying on with my own personal tasks, I find solace in reflecting on what is to come and what has already been. Sometimes, my setting triggers such reflection if I find myself in a place where a meaningful memory was made.
I find solace in many things, but this is all possible by feeling comfortable enough in my skin to express myself freely and enjoy my surroundings. So in addition to my actual surroundings bringing a sense of serenity, I foster feelings of comfort from within. Something like the song I choose to play or outfit I find myself wearing in a certain setting could act as a supplement to my day. Conversely, my actual setting could foster feelings of being one with my environment and belonging to create one divine moment.
For example, there are certain things I carry with me at all times throughout my week which allow me to feel like myself, including my sunglasses and sticker-strewn Hydro Flask. They not only act as functional items for me, but give insight into who I am. The stickers on my water bottle tell a story. Something as simple as wearing my sunglasses is then very important to me because I feel like I am keeping to myself in a sense, as I both figuratively and literally shade myself from my surroundings. It’s not that I don’t want to be seen — I know I am seen with my rather stand out wardrobe and dyed hair. It’s more about feeling empowered by this accessory to carry on throughout my day.
Self-expression is something I value greatly, which is why I find much solace seeing my work published in The Cavalier Daily. I’m thankful for the opportunity to express my thoughts and have my words shared with the rest of my community and I hope that others may find additional joy in the little things that surround us during our daily lives.