On Aug. 17, I wrote an opinion piece for the Newswire entitled “Welcome to the Xavier Community.” When I wrote that piece, I was surrounded by the energy that is Manresa and the class of 2023 joining our family.
I described my first experience at Xavier as a prospective student and the sense of community I felt which would only grow throughout my time at Xavier. In my piece, I talked about how at Xavier we have our good days, but we also have our bad. I wrote, “The thing that makes Xavier a special place is that no matter if you are having your worst day of the semester or your best, there will always be someone there to hold the door for you or to give you a smile.”
As I have been trying to adjust to online learning, I have thought about this a lot.
I am not going to lie, I struggled in the beginning and I still struggle. It is difficult for me to feel that same sense of community when no one is there to hold the door for me. The bad days are seemingly endless and I often feel alone when I try to face them. I feel far from my friends, I feel far from the Xavier faculty and staff that support me, and I feel far from the community of Gallagher Student Center and all of the people that make it feel like home.
I know that there aren’t physical doors for people to open for me but there are still plenty of people smiling at me. I have friends checking in with me about my post-grad plans and I have weekly group sit downs that have turned into weekly Zoom calls. Community is in these weird Instagram challenges we endlessly tag one another in. Community is in the friends watching Netflix Party together. Community is using a group chat to decide what color people should dye their hair. Community is still there.
I had a teacher in high school that used to hate that we would do our retreats at the Jesuit spirituality center. He told us that a retreat could form a community anywhere, even in the gym of our school (where he wanted to do the retreats). He told us what makes communities special is the people. If you allow people to intentionally interact with one another, community is not hard.
This is what has made our community at Xavier. We have all, whether we recognized it or not, been intentionally about building relationships and being there for one another. Xavier has been an amazing physical space for us to do so.
Well right, now we aren’t on our beautiful campus, or at the fancy spirituality center. During this time of online learning, we are in the gym.
Community is all around us, it just takes a little more intentionality and work. Sometimes that work can seem like an insurmountable task, and that’s OK. I know there have been days where I have had to step back and recognize that I simply didn’t have the energy that day. During this time where our “normal” takes a lot more work and energy, self-care is essential. We have to recognize that this is not easy for anyone.
People are dealing with things no one should ever be asked to deal with. It is important that you take some time to do something for yourself. It feels hypocritical to be writing this because I am definitely not someone who would get an award for my self-care track record.
It may be hard, but please, the way we are going to get through this is self-care and community. Take care of your body, connect with others, take breaks, go for walks and don’t be afraid to reach out.