Welcome to our new section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus.) We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

I wrote the following poem at the end of my first year at Harvard. My freshman year in many ways symbolized constant movement and communication. Experiencing such a persistent stream of interaction on campus left little time for solitude. Bonding with friends, engaging in late-night conversations and meeting new people was a very rewarding experience — but simultaneously very exhausting. Particularly, as an introverted person who gains energy from alone time, I felt very drained by the end of the year. So once my final exam of the spring semester ended, I retreated to my room and finally allowed myself to have the extended alone time that I had been yearning for all semester. It was the most peaceful I had felt in months. I cherish these moments of reflectance and stillness above all else. Through my poem I hope to emphasize that though these times of complete stillness are minuscule and easily overlooked, they are essential components to my well-being, as they provide me with increased self-understanding.

I had forgotten what it felt like to be truly alone, 

to be enthralled by the silent lull of solitude.

In the chaos of everyday life, one is so bombarded with the vicious tides of chaos

that true silence is forgotten.

It first becomes a rarity —
but eventually metamorphosizes into a myth.

And then the one golden day arrives: The silence resumes. And it is always a shock, a surprise when suddenly that embrace of silence engulfs you.

But though it is an untimely guest, it is never an unwelcomed visitor.

For what a gift it is to soak into the tranquil tone of silence.

To forever bathe into its delicious aura &

submerge yourself into the sea of nothingness.

To do nothing more than exist in a moment

enveloped by an echoing hush.

And in this momentary reticence,

I am inundated with the creative outbursts which wash over me.

The paintbrush of life brings color to my mind’s own eye.

And in this stillness I see the most magnificent creature I have ever laid eyes on:

Peace — and she is ever-abounding.

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis


  • Ashley Cooper

    Thrive Global Author

    Ashley Cooper is a recent graduate of Harvard College, who jointly concentrated in Neuroscience and Social Anthropology, with a Secondary in History of Science, a citation in Mind, Brain, and Behavior, and a language citation in French. Currently, she is pursuing a MPhil in Health, Medicine, and Society at the University of Cambridge as the Lionel de Jersey Harvard Scholar. She is deeply interested in the intersection between culture and psychiatric care. A Mellon Mays Fellow, Ashley aims to increase equity in mental health care dispersal, and especially to foster enhanced accessibility to mental healthcare for the Black community. Ashley recognizes that representation is of paramount importance when endeavoring to remedy racial disparities in mental healthcare delivery and subsequently yearns to improve the mental health domain to better serve the idiosyncratic needs of minority communities.