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Home is Where the Heart is

by Hayleigh Brokaw

I don’t know about any other students reading this, but I find a significant divide between my lives back home and at Illinois State. Maybe that’s the point of it, but at the same time, it does get me thinking. For some people, Illinois State is their only home, or maybe they aren’t as fortunate to have a home life they can go back to. This point of the difference between the two places has been a topic of conversation between my roommates and friends, so I decided to shed some light on it.

I live in a very different world at home in comparison to when I spend most of my year in Normal. At home, I am surrounded by lots and lots of fields, a quiet country landscape, my family, two dogs, and the best food places that don’t have a drive through. At school, I am surrounded by my friends, my own apartment, and the excitement of game days and a new school year, despite the current circumstances. All of these feelings and experiences I have found can feel so similar yet so different. They hold types of happiness that are not achieved in the same ways. Sometimes these differences can even be overwhelming; juggling two alternate lives can save space for a lot of unnecessary stress and worry.

My best advice for anyone feeling this divide is separation. The method that works best for me is the unplugged method. Once I go back home, if school and work can allow it even for a little bit, I try to stay away from my devices. My phone goes on silent and my computer stays on the charger. I am a top-tier stresser about school and any internship work that sits in the back of my brain– but there is a time when it needs to be turned off. I give myself a fair amount of time to accomplish my tasks within the week, or even up until early on a Saturday morning. Being able to get the necessities done in ample time allows me to feel better about making time to relax with my friends and my family. I also fully understand that this is NOT applicable to everyone who reads this, I know many people with schedules that don’t stop.

In final, I encourage anyone to try these methods. If back home serves as a safe and relaxing place for you, make it exactly that! Leave school, stress, and drama at the door if you can. Prioritizing and separating the positives of the different environments you find yourself in may help you enjoy them more. If going home means being able to talk to your mom, practice cooking, taking your dogs for a long walk, or just binging Netflix, do that. If being at school means working on improving your GPA, spending time on a passion project, and blocking crucial study time, do that. Sometimes, these two worlds do not have to collide with each other, but balance each other.

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