July 18, 2024

I have never felt the switch from immense pressure to absolute relaxation in such a short amount of time before. As soon as I left the campus on Friday afternoon, I slowly felt that lift. When I finally got home three hours later, the constant tension in my chest and the repetitious turning of my thoughts eased. I could breathe again.

Finally being able to see my parents and my dog, Daphne, never felt more satisfying. I didn’t realize how much I truly missed the company of them and features of my home environment. Sure, I had some separation anxiety during my freshman year and it being my first true time away from the safeties and comforts, but this time, it was so much more.

A realization of how far my mental health had fallen occurred on this past Saturday while on a family hike in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The absolute peace and beauty of the areas I had been longing to see opened my mind to what has been clouded these past few months.

I’ve been working so hard all the time and taking very little or no time to take care of myself mentally. I forgot completely about my connection to nature and how it always allows me to not only breathe easier, but to have the capability to clear my head of its toxic self-destruction.

No longer being surrounded by an environment constantly reminding me of work and assignments not yet completed, those tasks left me, leaving me with nothing left to do but appreciate the views before me. It was a form of cleansing that I’ve only endured few times before. Those events were in other locations of complete serenity and reflection.

My trip back home not only came with this total reflection within, but also with other small things. I was able to celebrate Daphne’s birthday. I voted via mail-in ballot in my first presidential election. Home-cooked meals of salmon and quesadillas outweighed any meal at the CDR. I spent an afternoon getting coffees and shopping in Target with my mom. My dad and I went flyfishing. I exchanged my tight summer clothes and sandals for my more appealing, comfy flannels and boots.

The change of pace, scenery and use of energy this past weekend was like someone pushed my reset button. I felt as if my tank of energy mixed with coffee and determination was now full also with a few nights of good sleep, healthy foods and exercise. Basically, it was full of things I should be living with on campus, but because of the sluggish energy of Wittenberg and my habits that occur only here, I am not constantly at 100 percent. At home, I finally plugged back into the wall, attached the charging cable and got that battery full of energy.

If there’s one thing I wish for you to take away from this little speech, it’s this: nature works in funny ways. Because civilization is all hustle and bustle, you feel as if you have to keep up with it. Sometimes you do for certain reasons, but for others, it sometimes means taking a trip outside of the bubble. Even a simple walk in the park can do you some good. Taking a break to watch a movie or read a book can work, but physically escaping to the outdoors gives that sense of being absolutely free.

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