When I was little, I had a doll that was my favourite thing in the whole world. I couldn’t sleep unless she was next to me at night, and I’d fall asleep holding her (until I rolled over in my sleep and she fell on the ground). Most people probably had a stuffed animal or toy that they couldn’t be without. We’ve all heard stories about the little kid who loses his blankie and screams for it, or that one toy we never thought we would let go of.
Other than that, I was never really the type to care about “stuff”. I lost things all the time – sometimes I would lose one of the socks I was wearing and have no idea where it went. Possessions didn’t mean a ton to me, and I never really felt attached to my stuff.
Six weeks ago, I packed up my life and moved across the country. Well, first I moved out of my apartment to a friend’s place, then to my sister’s place, then to my very first apartment. To make a long story short, the moving company I hired to move everything I had screwed me over and I haven’t had any of my possessions for two months.
It’s been far from ideal to say the least. My bed, my furniture, my clothes, they are all replaceable, but the memories I had with my personal belongings cannot be replaced. I also have a habit of keeping things and being really sentimental. A kind note from a friend, a card from my mom, a concert ticket, a university hoodie. These are all things I cherish most, and I lost them all.
I didn’t realize how much I relied on these little comforts until I didn’t have them anymore. I find myself wanting those things on days when I feel too depressed, too lonely, or too emotionally drained. They were all signs that someone loves me, even when I feel unlovable and can’t love myself.
I think I also realized the importance of comfort in maintaining positive mental health. Sleeping on a half-deflated air mattress and not having anywhere to put my clothes away makes my home environment somewhat chaotic and unsettled. Apparently there’s some book about how if you have a tidy space your mind will be good too or something. I never believed it until I saw how my upside down environment started to take a toll on my mental health.
Change is hard for anyone. Adapting to a new environment is never easy, but it’s even harder without (literal) safety blankets to help you out. If I’ve learned anything it’s that sometimes the most worthless things, the things that are easy to forget about, are the most precious and the most valuable.
If there’s one piece of advice I can leave you with it’s this: take time to make your space your own. Make it your little paradise where you have all the comforts you could want, and you might be surprised by the impact it has on your mental health. It’s hard for students when you don’t have a large budget to buy furniture and home decor, or you’re moving multiple times a year because of school, or internships, or moving back home. But these comforts don’t have to be big or expensive. It can be as simple as putting up some photos of your friends from fun times you’ve had to remind you of special moments you’ve been lucky enough to experience. I know I’d give pretty much anything to be able to look back at some of the memories I had collected over the past few years right now.
Keep Surviving by Living.