Pursuit of Happiness: Home away from home

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Islamic Center of UConn. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

I’m gonna be straight-up right now—I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to write about this week. I usually pick the topic of my column based on how my week went, things I noticed or heard about that made me think. This week was probably one of the slowest weeks of this semester. I mostly just hopped between meetings and class and the library and all the other great things about my daily life (not that great when you look at it from far away).

Regardless, this week felt more wholesome than any of my weeks prior this semester. No exams, no stress. But most of all, I was able to spend plenty of time with people who make my dull days feel full of love. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in the Islamic Center of UConn (ICUC) among many other Muslim brothers and sisters on campus, all of us taking in the knowledge of Islam during “halaqa,” an informal lecture, all of us trying to better ourselves together. Before that, I was sitting with some of the other sisters, deeply invested in a conversation about mental health on campus. Before I came to the ICUC, I spent an hour at the Bangladeshi Student Association meeting and talked to a Bengali professor with other members of the board, reflecting on various parts of our beautiful culture. Today, I felt so comfortable with the people around me. I could feel the love and care, I could feel the openness of their hearts to make an effort to truly listen. Yesterday, I spent hours at night designing for the Daily Campus with perhaps the most wonderfully weird people I know. These past few days, for the first time in a long time, felt like I was really at a home away from home.

Last week, I talked about spreading your love to everyone. I still stand by that, of course, but this week I want to reflect on the importance of the people who you love the most by your own will, the people that aren’t blood, but feel like family.

Sometimes the clashing of an individual’s identities make it hard to find a physical safe space; it means that, to fit the box of a certain space, they will need someone to pick one identity over the other. Personally, I find my safe space with my friends and community, and especially the ones who feel like family (no shade at anyone that prefers a physical safe space, this is just how I feel since I basically get my energy from being around others). When you find people that make you feel comfortable about every single aspect about all your identities, you have found a family. These are the friends that will be there in celebration and distress.

For me, the latter is very important. Like I said a few weeks ago, I’m the type to hold onto my emotions because I don’t want to burden others. My lack of talking about my problems sent me into a mental spiral of self-loathing. Having these friends around me have brought me comfort in a few ways. I feel like I can be myself, I feel like my problems are not burdens. I noticed that talking things through with them gave me new ideas and perspectives. On top of all this, I never felt more self-accepting until I found people who I hold this close to my heart, people who understand the things I experienced, the things I think about in the context I am influenced to think about.

If you’re like me, I want you to remember that you are not alone. Look to those who you care for, the ones who care for you. The more you internalize your own problems, the less likely you are to come to peace with who you are. Recognize those who are here for you, the ones who will always have your back.

Shower your love on the ones who give you a home away from home, and keep smiling!


Armana Islam is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at armana.islam@uconn.edu.

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