Dani: Sunken Garden Steps

My favorite spot is the third step from the top. It’s the exact middle. It’s where I went at the beginning of freshman year when I was wondering if this is where I was supposed to be, if this is where I belonged. I had gotten my first college test back, in Intro Bio, and I remember literally failing and not understanding how that had happened after working so hard. And I felt like a failure as a roommate, because my roommate, who I love and still live with—it’s our fourth year—was very shy and homesick and I didn’t know what to do to alleviate those feelings. I already knew she’d be my best friend, but I didn’t know how to make her feel like this could be her home, too. And it seemed like all of our hallmates who were rushing were bonding over that. I just didn’t know if I was supposed to be here. So I went out to wander the Sunken Gardens—definitely saw someone streak that night—and sat here. I tried all the steps, like the Three Little Bears, and when I came to the third step, I finally sat back, and felt supported.
Now, I come here every time I have a breakup or if there’s something new with my mom’s cancer or if I feel like I still don’t belong here. Everyone has those recurring doubts and even as a senior who’s in love with the College and so invested, I still have them…so I want to believe everyone else has them! I think it’s normal and its healthy to have those doubts a lot of the time, and I hope I have those doubts because they force me to pause and reflect on why I chose to be here, why I choose to stay here, and why I choose to invest my time the way I do. Which isn’t necessarily with academics as my first priority, but I choose to invest my time in the people more.
I also go there for happy things. Like when I got my littles for FASA and was planning their scavenger hunt, that’s where I went. I felt like I was looking out over all of campus. Because even though you can only really see the Sunken Gardens, I have this mental map of beyond.  
I read this book when I was little where one of the characters had a thinking rock. And I thought that was the coolest thing. So I was like “I will find my own thinking rock!” I walked around to all these rocks and I dragged my dad with me and we crawled around on the creek and climbed trees. We thought maybe it’s not a rock, maybe it’s a tree. It wasn’t a tree; I don’t like heights. Most certainly not a tree. But then I was helping my dad repair our tractor, a yearly tradition, and while we were taking the parts out of the toolshed I finally saw this rock which was like the literal rock from the Little Mermaid that she goes on and starts singing and I was like, “This is my thinking rock!” And I was so excited. Whenever I would get in a fight with my parents, or had any other problems, thinking rock! So, I came to William & Mary, and realized that I needed my own thinking rock here because I knew I’d need something to stabilize me and give me a place that’s mine. Like I said, I tried every step, and the third is the best. Maybe it’s my stature, maybe someone who’s taller would need a different step, but whatever, I highly recommend it. But also if I see people on it, I get irrationally territorial and I’m like “You can’t have it!”

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