Do you have a place, a thought, or a feeling that seems to bring you peace of mind or comfort? I’ve never had something like that in my life until the last few years. Arizona State University’s West Campus is my safe place. In times of stress or turmoil it seems to welcome me with open arms. Like a warm hug, I’m able to let my fears go and take a deep breath. The echo of silence seems to quiet my mind and give me a sense of clarity. In such a gentle way it’s my reminder to snap the hell out of it and take on the world!
But last night, I had a moment. Overwhelmed with frustration and emotion I just hit my breaking point. Some days I feel the weight of the entire world on my shoulders and I fall to my knees under the pressure. I pride myself on my optimism and my positive outlook…but sometimes I can’t take it. I try my best to keep my head up, to stay the course and persevere. But sometimes I fail. I’m just trying to “keep it together”,
whatever that means…
My plate is pretty darn full. Full-time job, girlfriend, daughter, older sister, parents recently divorced, and a piggy bank to all of my miscellaneous bills and responsibilities. Sometimes I don’t think that I can do it all. Just a year ago, life felt so much simpler. I was a poor college student who’s only worry was keeping up with financial aid and classes. Sure, I had my challenges there too, but in retrospect, boy did I have it easy.
Making the transition as a twenty-something into adulthood us so underrated. Moments like these make me think back to graduation day when I had so much hope! Such an innocent thought that everything would be magical and blissful after I received my diploma. A foolish idea that things would naturally fall into place and it would be easy. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I’m Little Miss Sunshine right? Always happy and uplifting, they say. So I feel this obligation to smile through everything. Friends and loved ones around me hold me to that standard. It’s a lot of pressure. Furthermore, I’ve touched so many lives and inspired many more than I ever intended due to how hard I’ve pushed myself. I feel the weight and expectation that I have to succeed; break the mold and become something big.
But what if I fail?
So last night, I broke down. All of the walls came crumbling down. The straw that broke the camel’s back if you will. It was just a glimpse of my reality – all of my deepest and darkest rose to the surface. All of my fears and possibilities became evidently clear.
Like muscle memory, I grabbed my keys, hopped in my car and just started driving. I didn’t know where I planned to go, but I started my engine and went with it. Ever so naturally, my brain took me down a familiar path. A place that I’ve spent so much time at over the last four years. A place where I could escape and figure it all out.
I went to my safe place.
When I try to make sense of why sitting in the middle of the lawn, overlooking the campus brings me such comfort, I’m reminded of why this place is so special to me in the first place. I graduated from ASU West last year so I’ve created many memories there. The best moments and some of my worst occurred on this plot of land. But overall, I found myself there. I discovered who I was and who I’d like to become. So in a sense, when I feel lost and struggle to make sense of my life, it brings me back to who I am.
In this place, I’m able to find my way back.
So tonight, I sat alone and embraced the quiet evening sounds of crickets chirping and lights flickering on campus. I cried and spoke aloud the culprits that are bringing me such distress. It was as if articulating the challenges made them easier to tackle. I sat there for about an hour. Crying. Breathing. Reminiscing the moments that happened there that have brought me where I am today. And as I expected, my safe place had worked its magic.
I’m simply at the next upgrade in my life – the transition from being an aspiring college student to a woman. I’m experiencing many of the challenging experiences of becoming a fully functioning part of society and quite frankly, it’s been pretty terrifying. But I am strong. My safe place has equipped me with the tools and the mindset that I am stronger than my experiences. I can do this! Regardless of my parents divorce, changes at work, and the horror that I call my finances, I am bigger and better than all of it.
I hope that you have a safe place in your life. Whether that is your friend’s home, your kitchen, or in your car, I hope that you have an escape in your life that brings you peace and understanding. It may be the most obvious place or something unexpected, but take the time to sit and breathe. Really analyze what’s troubling you and face it unafraid.
….but what do I know? I’m just a twenty-something trying to figure it all out.
— Little Miss Sunshine