Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Drifting From Your Values: Safe Space

When you go to college, it may be the first time that you encounter opinions radically different from your own. At the very least, college will likely be the first time that you don't have your home to return to; your parents and their support network likely won't be there in your dorm room to reassure you after a day of facing unfamiliar values. Losing that safe recuperating space can be really tough and stressful to deal with, especially when you want to replenish yourself.

Here are some ideas to find a safe space to refocus on your values.

Your room

Talk to your roommate to make sure that your room is a good place to recoup after a day. Having a safe place to return to refresh yourself and your values is really important. For example, if you don't agree with the college party scene, talk to your roommate about not playing loud house music late at night. Or if you don't believe in premarital sex, talk to your roommate about respecting your blissful ignorance of the sex when she "sexiles" you.

Recognize that you're not going to get everything you want from your roommate. Likely, the two of you will come to a compromise that isn't perfect but better than none at all.

Safe Spaces on Campus

If your room can't be a safe space, see if you can find a safe space on campus. A lot of colleges have women only safe spaces. There are also LGBTQ friendly spaces cropping up in more and more campuses; it's so great to see this time of progress. For religious folk, your faith probably has an area church and your campus probably has an interfaith chapel.  You can read this Tech article about the value of the MIT Women's Lounge. MIT also has the Rainbow Lounge.


I often find that reserving library study room for a few hours of self-contemplation is a good way to refresh and recenter myself. Sometimes I bring a book that describes my values; other times I just think about what has been drifting me from what I want to do. It's a very difficult process to return to what you hold in your heart when everyone else seems to be doing something different.

You may have a different group of friends, with different values, from different places. I know that I felt encouraged to try things I'd never even heard of before coming to MIT; some of the things I ended up really liking, while others I absolutely hated.