One of the most important lessons I have learned is that you must foster your roots. I have been through the unthinkable in my 29 years, and it has grounded me. It may be less than what you have been through, or it may be more, but no matter how many times you almost die because of a disease your body created or feel adrift because your parents divorced when you were 6 or feel sad that you survived the deaths of 6 family members in a short period of time, your roots bring you back to reality.
My roots were fostered by a single-hard working mother, a high school that has continued to foster young women for over 100 years, and a college experience surrounded by friends and faculty who have become family. These roots aren’t something I recognized when they were growing deeper and stronger. On the contrary, they appeared during difficult times in my journey.
I have carried these lessons learned, tears cried, and blissful experiences with me during the last five years I have been pursuing my PhD. I continue to look at my roots. My 5 years at Temple have been phenomenal, continually fostered by strong relationships with faculty and friends, but I wouldn’t have been able to create these new relationships without my roots. These roots have become the mantra of my actions, beliefs, and life. I wouldn’t be here writing this without the lessons I have learned along the way.
At the University of Scranton, one of the buildings has the quote “Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live.” Carved into the edifice that serves as the location of meals, awards ceremonies, and generations of timeless memories, this building has served as a reminder of the importance of recognizing that I have succeeded in my journey thus far because of what I learned and where I came from. This building is where I actively love every day.
Thinking about your roots can be difficult at points in your life when there is huge change. You may take a job across the country, leaving your family and friends behind. However, if you are brave enough to pursue such an endeavor, you must acknowledge that you wouldn’t have even tried to do the unthinkable without the foundation your family, your friends, and you provided. You continue to build the world around you based on your hopes and dreams, and those are innately connected to your home. Your home may be a parent, a grandparent, an aunt, or an uncle, but that home will be what you take with you as you create your new life. For that, you should be thankful and acknowledge what you have learned from your roots along the way.
Your home isn’t a physical place, but you carry it within you every day. The home that taught you love for your mother and father gives you the ability to hold the door open for the 20 people behind you, even if you are running behind schedule and only one person acknowledges your kindness. It gives you empathy for your elderly neighbor who can’t shovel snow – you automatically imagine that person as your grandparent and shovel the snow for them without a second thought because you would do the same for your loved ones. Your home is created by your experiences, the love you experience, and most importantly, the love you give.
You can travel the world, but the world you create is directly connected to where you have come from. Once you understand the power of your roots, I guarantee that you will think about how your actions affect the community at large and more importantly, make a positive impact on the world around you. Your home is your soul, so share and spread it wisely.