Cultivate Your Garden

By Ojas Joshi

I remember my freshman orientation. Coming from an out-of-district middle school, I was instantly overwhelmed by the sea of unfamiliar faces. “How will I ever make friends?” I wondered, sweating under the sweltering heat. 

Four years later, as I nervously gear up to embark on a new chapter in my life at Cal, I know that I will draw on the valuable lessons I have learned at Westmont: of community, of friendship, and of human connection.

 I found community at Westmont in the various clubs and sports I participated in. Cross country sticks out in my mind. United by our common suffering, we worked hard as a team, always supporting and lifting each other up. In this cross country community, I found solace from the loneliness of online school. Our 3 p.m. practices, however brief, were always filled with laughter, joy, and a little bit of pain. As COVID restrictions eased, our small practices turned into team beach excursions, night hikes, and donut runs. In these seemingly infinite days and nights, I found some of the best friends of my life. I found people I could talk to about anything, people I could play my guitar with, people I could go on camping trips with, people who would always be there for me. 

My first days, weeks, and months at college will feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Life as I live it will change drastically. As daunting as this may seem, I remain optimistic because of the many communities I intend on joining. Cross country has taught me that in these communities, I can find a new home. Focusing on cultivating my gardens—the clubs, sports, activities, and people close to me—has gifted me with the ripest of fruits.