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It takes a village

| Friday, November 12, 2021

As I continue ending my college career during my senior year, I have found myself reminiscing on the moments, decisions, opportunities and memories that have led up to this final chapter. Most importantly, I have been reflecting on the many people who have guided me along this journey and have helped prepare me for these future endeavors. The friends, family members, acquaintances, strangers and relationships of the past have all contributed to the life that is Sydni Brooks, and they all take part in my journey of success, failure and everything in between. At times college and even life itself might feel isolating, and especially with the past year we’ve had, independence and self-sufficiency have been vital traits to survive through these times. As independent as I would like to think I am, all of the people that have influenced my life have made it far from lonely or without support. It truly does take a village to raise a child, and I am forever blessed and grateful for the village that has raised me.

I like to think of the people in my life as branches to a tree, and they all work together, whether they know it or not, to lift up and nurture me. I have been blessed with three sets of grandparents, countless aunts and uncles, even more cousins, family friends, friends you think are blood related but you find out years later simply knew your family for a long time and the greatest mom, dad and sister a girl could ask for. The support my parents had in raising their two girls was incredible, and it continues to influence how I interact with people every day.

From attending my exorbitant amount of sporting events, talent shows and leadership presentations, to demanding academic excellence from me in the classroom, to reminding me to always remain my truest self, especially in times of discourse or confusion, the people have created a healthy branch in the tree of my life have guided me to be a compassionate, determined and genuine person full of serving with humility and patience. I was and still am a busybody with too many responsibilities and events to take part in, but someone was always there reminding me that I didn’t have to hold the weight of the anxiety or the excitement alone. All of the parents who drove me to and from practices and games when my own had to work, the families who hosted me for dinner just because they could, the referees we eventually knew by name after playing on their courts for so long, the opponents from different schools who I only know on the court of field but made a difference in how I played the game and all of the friends, teammates and siblings who supported me along the way influence every way I lead my life with kindness and compassion. Many of these people were not connected to me through blood or through the closest of friendships, but they gave their time, energy and even more, their hearts to help me succeed.

In college, I continued to meet more people that began to grow branches on this tree, and villagers in my tribe. Professors slowly became mentors who equally taught me about life and academics, much like some of my teachers in high school. I’ve built long-lasting friendships with students here, mostly based on the commonality that none of us really know what is going on in our lives, and none of us have a definite answer on what to do about it. Less thought about, though, are the people who have been sprinkled into my college experience that have also sculpted my existence. The immediate friendships I’ve made with caffeine-wired students who are also studying for organic chemistry in the library 3 a.m., the random dining hall lunches I’ve had with friends of friends, the students I only know through our silent but smiling waves as we pass each other on the way to class and the countless other interactions I’ve had on this campus constantly remind me of how lucky I am be so interconnected with community.

Some of the most difficult relationships that are incredibly vital to my growth as a person are the ones that are no longer in my life. The relationships that have ended due to disagreements, wrongdoings on either side or simply drifting away from each other have taught me how to love myself harder, protect my peace more strongly and advocate for myself more. These fallen branches of my tree leave behind memories, lessons and room for new branches to grow. Though ending relationships of any sort can be hard, they show us exactly who we are, and ask us who we are going to be.

My favorite and most important relationships have been with my parents and sister. I am completely aware of how blessed I am to have such overly supportive (and sometimes overly protective) parents. My greatest joy is utilizing all of the hard work and dedication my parents have done to provide for me in order to make them proud. Besides inspiring me to always be the best version of myself in every facet, my parents and sister have motivated me to appreciate my uniqueness and never let life and its tribulations deplete my spirit. They encourage me to stay creative, vulnerable, selfless and fun, and to use these attributes to light the lives I enter.

There are so many branches in the tree of Sydni Brooks which signify the many villagers who have helped raise me. Just as an insurmountable amount of people have shaped my outlook on life, and I have also created branches in the lives of the people around me, big, small and even no longer there. Though it might seem like the people walking in and out of our lives are random, how we imprint ourselves in their lives are forever remembered.

Sydni Brooks is a senior studying English and gender studies. She hopes to continue her work in writing and editing in her career advocating for women’s health issues. She can be reached through her email [email protected] or @sydnimaree22 on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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