It took me two months, but I’ve found my place. This transition into college was not extremely easy for me. I came in with confidence but found it slowly dwindling as I dealt with a living situation I was not prepared for: sharing a small space. I found that with one part of my life struggling—my living arrangement—all the other parts of my life started to struggle too, like my grades, attendance, and studying.
I found it hard to find a place that I could call my own; I felt like I had no personal space in the dorms. I tried finding a place somewhere else on campus: the library, a sitting area in an academic building, the arboretum. However, I always came up short. There was no place for me to claim as mine and that was the worst for me at night.
I would get so anxious and worked up about having to go back to my dorm at night. It felt like a prison to me. A small, cramped space that I have to share with a person who I don’t know very well; where we lock the door and for our safety have to stay in all night. While to some people, this might sound easy to deal with, for me it literally felt like prison. I didn’t feel safe at night because I didn’t have a sense of home. I tried bringing in more stuff from home: I hung up more posters, brought more of my guitar gear, but still I felt empty and like I was living in someone else’s space.
For the longest time, the dorm room didn’t even feel like mine. The way my roommate and I initially set the room up had my desk tucked in between all of her stuff and my bed on top of hers. I felt like a stranger in a room that was supposed to be half mine. I felt her stuff caving in on me. I didn’t bring a ton to college because I live 20 minutes away. I brought the essentials and a few things that would make me happy, like my music gear, but other than that I came from a very minimalistic approach. The person I was living with was the complete opposite. She’s from out of state and so brought a ton of stuff because she doesn’t get the opportunity to go home as often as I can. It all seemed fine and well until I sat in the dorm room one day and it just made me cry. I didn’t have my space, my side, or my sense of home.
I made the first step to changing that day. I decided to change the layout of our furniture. I realized I needed my dedicated side. I needed to split the room evenly and have my space. Luckily my roommate was fine with this change and we positioned everything on opposite sides of this cramped room. It did fix things for a while, but I had forgotten that just because the room layout changed doesn’t mean she has any less stuff. At times I would find myself—selfishly—thinking, why can’t she just get rid of this stuff? It’s an inconvenience to me. I can testify that this wasn’t me at some of my best. It made me a really angry and calloused person. I just wasn’t used to living with someone else surrounded me.
Growing up, I had the lucky privilege of having the largest bedroom in the house. There’s something freeing about having space to walk around; having space to make everything you have, have a home. I was extremely blessed that when both of my brothers moved away, I got the whole lower level of the house to myself. I made one of their bedrooms my music room and the other a study/office space. I liked being alone, having my space where I could decompress and relax. So coming to college and having to sacrifice that was extremely hard for me, and it really affected my life in every aspect.
I’m so grateful for GVSU’s willingness to help its students. I explained my discontent to my RA. She listened and was there to help. One night when I was extremely down—anxious and depressed—my friends urged me to talk to the RA on-duty and so I reached out to them. They were so sweet and accommodating. They felt led to call the Living Center Director, and I spent quite a while talking to her, too. She decided it would be best if she put a rush in for a room change for me. She put a rush in based on my mental health. Now this point, I could write a whole separate blog post about. I’m so extremely blessed that GV is a university that is all about inclusion, outreach, and support. I think God placed me here specifically so that I could get to a place where I was mentally sound.
I went through the whole moving process within a week—something that is sometimes unheard of. After talking with the LCD of another living area on campus, I decided living in an apartment would be exactly what I needed. While the bedroom wouldn’t be as huge as mine at home (and let’s face it, when will I ever have a room that size again?!), it would guarantee that I’d had a room where I could close a door and call the space mine. It wouldn’t be shared and it wouldn’t possess stuff that wasn’t mine. After finding an opening, I got my keys on Friday and moved in that evening.
I’m here to say I feel so much better now. Mentally I feel like I’m ready to take on college. After two months, I’ve found my groove and I’ve found my space. It’s crazy how a little personal space can affect your life in a huge way. I’m thankful for all the people who have supported me, who have made this process smooth, and the friends who have stuck by my side during this. I may be on the complete opposite side of campus, but I feel alive. God showed himself to me so much through this change and it was a great way for me to learn to trust him more and more. I’m ready to see where the rest of this semester and year will take me—it took me moving twice, but I’m in a good place now!