Kat’s Mental Health Column: Building Communities

Thanksgiving break allowed many students to return to their communities of family and friends at home.(Courtesy of Facebook)

Thanksgiving break allowed many students to return to their communities of family and friends at home.(Courtesy of Facebook)

As we return from Thanksgiving break and reunite with our beloved roommates, many of us get to experience, perhaps for the first time, the warm fuzzy feeling of returning from one community to another — that of our childhood to that of our budding adulthood. 

To put it in very basic terms, human beings need to be around others. We are social creatures and thrive when we find ourselves as part of a group. Being part of a community fosters feelings of belonging, support and purpose. Within our communities, we find people who share our interests, values and beliefs, and this allows us to feel better understood and less alone. Feeling that you belong as your true, authentic self and having people you can count on helps overcome challenges that would seem impossible if faced independently. As we grow with our communities, we find some role that gives us purpose, be it big or small. We discover what we’re good at and what we like to do, and we find that we enjoy doing those things to help others just as they help us.

If you went home for Thanksgiving break, you likely spent your time surrounded by family, ignoring the looming cloud of finals to appreciate the people around you in the moment. Perhaps you spent time with old friends who go to different colleges, catching up on almost a full semester of brand-new experiences. And despite how different that may feel from your home at Fordham, you still had that feeling of community, of belonging and being surrounded by love and joy. That feeling is what we’re missing when we start to feel homesick — the longing for that sense of community that we felt as kids.

Yet many of us also feel torn, missing home when we’re at school, but missing our friends at Fordham when we’re at home. The way I see it, though, is this  is a beautiful thing and something we should all be grateful for: to be so lucky as to have not just one, but two communities that we feel we belong in. In both places, we have people who share our values and beliefs. We have support that we can rely on and outlets to share our abilities.

Through my time at Fordham, I’ve learned that we are a community that takes care of each other, and that has certainly helped my mental health throughout the years. As we navigate the college years, we have peers and faculty who  help us through our struggles and guide us to our full potential. Whether it’s something as small as sharing notes when someone missed a class, joining a club to find people who are passionate about the same things as us, talking to a professor and finally being inspired by what we want to do for the rest of our lives or even staying up all night talking with your roommates about how you’ve all been feeling lately, that sense of community weaves its way through our years at Fordham. 

Being a senior now, it’s sad to write this knowing it’s my last piece for the Ram. This has been my home since I walked in freshman year as a timid copy editor whispering to Vanessa when I had a question. Graduating means that I must leave B-52 and take a step out of the comfort of the Fordham community. Yet the people at Fordham took me in and helped me grow, showing me that this community is a safe and supportive place and will continue to be a home for me even after I’ve graduated.