Subculture on Main: Lawrentians, know thyself!

Subculture on Main strives to raise awareness of the diversity of people and important issues on the Lawrence University campus. Care is taken to give equal platform to unique individuals and to listen to their stories with an open mind. Interviews are reflective only of the interviewee, not of their whole group.

   As the school year starts off in a way that no one could have predicted, many of us are more aware of our sense of belonging than we have been in the past. The current situation of the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest, a chaotic presidential election year and starting a new term at university has put us in situations where we have had to choose a side about something, and it has caused division in our lives. Division is powerful and isolating. It makes us feel unimportant and small. It is a human need that we feel like we belong. It is important to find yourself at the conclusion that you must find a place that is nurturing of what makes you unique. 

   Although I typically interview people on campus to fill this section, I found it imperative that we begin Fall Term 2020 with this message: you have a place even if you have not found it yet. Self-exploration, respect and mindful socialization are stepping stones to that place of belonging, which will hear your voice. Knowing yourself is a key part of a liberal arts education. This is a critical time in a person’s life when one must begin to understand their personship, citizenship and contributions to the world around them. As students of Lawrence, I think we are especially aware of this issue on campus. However, with social-distancing, quarantine and perhaps remote instruction away from the campus community, it is easy to forget the things that drew you here in the first place.

Your identity and community are the pillars of your well-being and your education. Therefore, creating a space that honors your person will help you achieve your personal and academic goals. Here are some meditations on aspects of your life that may help ground you to what is important and how to grow.

   Self care isn’t just avocado toast and an expensive makeup routine. It is the acknowledgement of your needs and boundaries. Have you rested recently and well? Are you feeling stressed out? What helps you recover from stress? What kind of support do you need? When was the last time you had healthy solitude? Finding the answers to these questions will help you find resources that will address underlying needs that we often ignore.

   Be well. I very much appreciate this phrase that floats around Lawrence because it encapsulates the notion that a person’s equilibrium is grounded in their approach to wellness. Have you exercised lately? What helps you replenish your strength? Where are your emotions laying? When was the last time you cried or asked for help? Are sleep and healthy eating scheduled into your day? What else do you need to feel well? Think on this. It may take some time, but it may help to manage your anxieties. You may find you haven’t been doing as much wellness-centered activity as you may have previously thought.

   Explore your limits. Have you tried something new or reconnected with a joy that has been left to the side? When was the last time you left your comfort zone? Have you shown someone your writing or art? What did they say? Being involved is one of the primary indicators of college success. On our campus, however, involvement can go too far. We know this problem as the Lawrence Busy. Somehow, even when classes are remote, we are finding ways to occupy every minute of our days. I’d like to draw attention to that and suggest diving deeper into fewer activities rather than stretching ourselves out too far. This is also a form of exploring your limits. What are you really interested in?

   Find your people. Are you involved with people who do what you love? When was the last time you had a phone call or FaceTime? Finding a balance of social interaction in your daily life can greatly increase your feelings of community and reduce feelings of stress. What are some other ways you can find people who do what you do? The university has many clubs and organizations dedicated to various interests as well as Discord, Facebook, and Instagram groups. Reach out to someone who piques your interest. We are all in need of a friend right now. Reaching out helps solidify those bonds of feeling connected and emotionally connects you with another person. Have you found a common cause with someone? Maybe you should start a project about a passion. These things often bring people together in new and creative ways. What will you dream up?

   Be your best self. Stay true to your beliefs but challenge them every now and again. When was the last time you had a healthy debate? Can you think of a time that you defended what you believe or listened to someone else’s point of view? This kind of interaction can help you understand more clearly what you really believe and what you truly value. When you do this, you clarify for yourself some of those defining characteristics, desires or dreams you might have. Follow what you think is true and right. Uphold your social obligations and social responsibility. Honor the code. Wear a mask. These are other aspects of being your best self.

   I hope you find at least one thing that you can use to improve your life and bring you closer to remembering your importance. If nothing else, one thing we all have in common is our identity as Lawrentians. People from all over campus, faculty, staff and students, sometimes even those from the Appleton community, are all there to help and support you through this unprecedented time. There are connections to be made, friends to have, academic areas to explore and the uniform hope that we can gather together, closely, someday soon.