I’ve been thinking lately how important environment is to well-being. Whether it is the immediate surroundings, the town we live in, the community of friends that we see, the places we visit, it all adds up to impact overall mental health and physical wellness. There are a myriad number of other factors affecting well-being, but I can say from experience how key it is to have a healthy environment to live in day-to-day filled with friends, family, and a positive living space.
One of the greatest examples of this in my life occurred as a freshman in college. The university I chose to attend seemed like the best choice and beautiful environment, but from the first day I arrived it felt wrong. The dormitory, the roommate I met for the first time on move-in day, the location, all were off. At the age of eighteen, I couldn’t identify what was wrong, but I can look back now and see that the environment I had entered was not for me. I could feel it, but putting words to identify the problem took the painful process of asking for help from family, friends, and professional counselors.
One of the most essential parts of that season of my life that I recognize now was the choice I made with the support of my parents to move out of that environment. With selfless love from my mom and dad, I was given the opportunity to rethink my college choice, transfer out of one university and attend another one from home while I received the support and mental healthcare that I needed at that time. With the empowerment of regaining control over my environment, I started feeling better, but not before my mom chose to do something that I will never forget.
In recognition that I needed a bigger perspective on life, she took me on a trip to further change my environment and open my eyes to the big world out there. I know her motherly instincts told her that my myopic view of life and depressed state not only could be treated through traditional medical methods, but also with some creativity. She planned and took me to see one of the greatest cities in the world for the first time: NYC.
I fell in love with New York. My mom introduced me to a city she had lived in as a school teacher, new wife, and young mother. I was mesmerized by everything: Broadway, Coney Island, the World Trade Centers, Brooklyn, the restaurants, and my first time ever spa appointment. My mom also took me on a train ride from Grand Central station out to Princeton, New Jersey, and showed me that there is so much more to see, experience, and learn about in this great big world.
I am filled with gratitude for her love and intelligence. She was insightful and resourceful. She could see what I needed when I had no understanding of what that was. I still to this day appreciate what she did for me in that season of my life, and the love for NYC that she instilled in me on that very first trip still lives inside me. God willing, I will be able to share my love for New York with my children someday soon. Hopefully, I can teach them this life lesson about environment that I learned the hard way all the while sharing that there is a whole big, beautiful world out there to appreciate and love.
© 2021 Megan Davia Mikhail