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So Listen: Growing in a garden

Today, I took a moment in my favorite spot on campus.

It was brief — in the time I had between cramming work in at the library and heading to my final class ever. I sat at the garden outside of Alden, nestled right between it and Cutler Hall, the oldest building on campus.

This is the most beautiful spot on campus, especially in the spring. I’ve spent a lot of time in this spot. College is busy and, sometimes, we forget to take a moment and just breathe. When I’m rushing around from class to class, meeting to meeting, this is my spot where I take a moment to just breathe.

Alden-Garden
Photo by Mikayla Rochelle

My freshman year, I would call my mom from this spot a lot. There’s a little thing they tell incoming students on tours about this garden: it’s shaped like Ohio, so if you are ever homesick, you should stand in the spot in the garden of where you’re from in Ohio to call home. That way, even though you aren’t there, metaphorically, this is the closest you can get to home. 

As I continued to make my calls home through the years, my calls were less about how I missed home and more about how much I was enjoying my time at OU and in Athens. I realized in these calls that I wasn’t homesick anymore — because Athens was becoming my home. 

In this time period of my life, there is no place I would have rather spent it than in Athens. This is the best town. It really is. There is a magic about this place that all who live here can speak of, so if you feel like you keep hearing this repeated, it’s because everyone can attest to it. 

I made some of my best friends here. I went through some bad heartbreaks here. I suffered and succeeded in such a cliche coming-of-age way. And I would change none of it. All of my failures, all of my triumphs, all shaped me into the person I am right now. College has facilitated my growth in a way that nothing else could have. If the fresh-faced 18-year-old version of me who was afraid of what was to come could see me now, I think I would make her proud. 

She sat in that garden a lot, afraid of what was to come and unsure of her place in the world. Sure, I’m still not exactly sure what I’m going to do or who I am supposed to be, but this town and this college have helped me find my way closer to the path I’m meant to be on. 

As I spend my last week here, I’ll sit in that little garden as much as I can and continue to reflect on everything in my life that has led me to these final moments of college. I wish I could slow it down, but time marches forward. To all current Bobcats: don’t forget to take a moment to breathe and give yourself time to recognize your growth. We all deserve that. 

Mikayla Rochelle is a graduate student studying public administration at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Mikayla by tweeting her at @mikayla_roch.



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