Welcome to our special 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.

The sun beamed on my face as I laid out on a beach chair, headphones in and frappé at hand. “Post Malone” by Sam Feldt and RANI was on repeat, blasting the lyric “We are never ever going home” into my ears.

But wait… I was going home. I was halfway through my summer trip to Greece with my cousin, and soon I would be back in college, rustling papers at my desk and spending countless hours at the library.

It was my third beach day in Andros, and I was still spending all my time tanning. It hit me that I could do that anywhere. Okay, maybe not anywhere, but in most places. I was in Greece, and I knew there had to be a better way to spend a beach day there.

Back home in Long Island, the cold, green waves are too high for me to swim further than ten feet from the shore. In Greece, the water is warm, calm, and clear. Should I take advantage of that? Absolutely.

I unplugged and dove in for a swim. And I don’t mean a light dip into the water, but a “Let’s see how far I can go, because why not?” kind of swim, because that’s not something I can do anywhere.

I should probably add that I’m only 5 feet tall, and it got deep pretty fast for me, but I still swam out to the center of the water. Behind me was the sandy beach and the beach chair I left behind; to my left were small restaurants along a strip; to my right were untouched, natural hills; and in front of me was a neverending view of the sea.

Instead of lying on a beach chair, I was floating in the middle of the water on the coast of a Greek island. When I looked up, I could see ranges of hills with small white villages spread out on them and the sun shining in the blue sky above me. The only noise I could hear came from the small waves crashing onto each other.

I was captivated by the calmness that surrounded me. It’s not often that I experience tranquil moments like that one. I reminded myself that in less than a month I would be back at school. Instead of floating there, I would be drowning in work and rushing to fill deadlines. But in that moment, I had time. I had no place to be and no work to worry about. Small moments like that one, when I am stress-free and anxiety-free, are what put my mental health in a pure state. I was happy, and I was in my element.

Moments like these are my light at the end of the tunnel, because even though I go back to school and work, I know that I will come back to moments like these, when nothing else matters.

It’s important to remember that without the hard times, these moments wouldn’t be as special as they are. These are the moments that we work for and live to experience.

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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