Walking out of Lauinger Library at 4 a.m. after a long night writing a paper and looking up to see Healy Hall towering, stable and beautiful, always makes me pause and remember how special this campus is. Looking up at the clock tower brings a peace and reminder that this campus is unique and time spent here is a blessing. When I first visited Georgetown for a Georgetown Admissions Ambassador Program weekend on a beautiful April day, I remember seeing Healy while driving over Key Bridge, and asking the taxicab driver what the building was. After spending that weekend on campus and taking a picture in front of Healy with my mom, that building, a towering symbol of Georgetown, came to represent new opportunities, different experiences and, hopefully, a new place to call home.
Leaving campus after my first year, this time looking back while crossing over Key Bridge, Healy did not give me the feeling that I was leaving home. I missed the Midwest, high school friends and, most importantly, my family, who sat through many teary, homesick Skype calls. When August came, I was committed to investing fully in Georgetown, which in my head meant joining more clubs, running for the Georgetown University Student Association Senate, interning on the Hill and getting more involved in the College Republicans.
This kind of pace has characterized most of my time here. As I slept for a few hours each night, my roommates would need to remind me to feed myself and became used to hearing the shower run at strange hours. My involvement gave me the purpose, fulfillment and community that I had desired. There was something intoxicating to me about the busyness, and as I continually felt more invested in this campus, the pace of things spiraled during my junior year. Leaving Georgetown for breaks started to give me the same lump in my throat that leaving home did freshman year, and I could not wait to get back to campus and Healy’s spire.
The accomplishments of Georgetown students and their ability to balance so many pursuits continue to amaze me. Being in such an environment is what shaped who I have become over the past few years. I am forever grateful to have been a part of organizations that allowed me to meet different people, see the world from different perspectives and do something that made this campus feel a bit more like home for someone else. What I have realized this year, however, is that the activities and accomplishments is not what makes Healy feel like home when I look up at it now. Rather, it is the types of people that I have been surrounded by that make this my home.
During my senior fall, I was studying for the LSAT law school aptitude test, still involved in student government and working on my thesis. One night after studying, I walked out of my back porch to call my dad just to talk about how things were going. As I was recapping, I physically collapsed. I laid there crying for over an hour. I had never felt so lost, so overwhelmed and so empty inside. For the past few years, all of the things that had given me purpose felt like tasks to be completed, but I could not see the meaning in how I was spending my time anymore.
Eventually, I picked myself up, called my best friend and talked with him on Healy lawn for a few hours. I am lucky to be surrounded by the most incredible support system I could ever ask for and, during that discussion, I realized my fulfillment and happiness never came from the tasks that I was doing, but from the relationships with the people around me.
College is not about staying busy and going to another meeting that gives purpose, but about seeing a peer who has battled mental illness find peace with a new service or resource that we collaborated on. Meaning came in the form of bringing a campus speaker who made me rethink my beliefs and a conversation with a friend who sees things differently than I do. This feeling sometimes even came in the form of a glass of wine with a friend at The Tombs on a Monday night.
I feel so lucky to have had the opportunities that Georgetown offered me, but I think it would be inaccurate to say that these opportunities are the reason I dread leaving this campus. This community has raised me, and I know that the love I have felt from faculty and staff and friends is not something that I will ever have to give up. Every time I look up at Healy, I am reminded of these people. And to me, that is more than I could have ever expected from a college education.
Abbey McNaughton is a senior in the College.