by: Jennifer Villeda ’20 A&E Staff
There are moments when you are walking around campus in a sea of students and listening to their conversations or too loud music, but feel completely alone and isolated. Your vision and mind do not connect at that moment, but rather, you are swept away in a current of racing thoughts that feel as though they are physically hurting you. It is scary because it seems like no one understands what you are feeling in that instance, but we all have gone through those periods where our mind is not our best friend.
This past week, Providence College Active Minds dedicated itself to the Semicolon Project. The concept resonates with co-president of Active Minds Alexa Howell ’20; she even has the symbol tattooed on her wrist. When she found a note on her phone from freshman year that had gone untouched since then, it reminded her of her goal to do this “semicolon takeover” since she became involved with Active Minds her spring semester of freshman year.
Howell explained what this concept is all about, saying, “The whole idea of the semicolon is how it is used in a sentence; you write your sentence, and then you want to add more without stopping it. It is a metaphor for life.You have gone so far in your life and you wanted to end it, but you didn’t. You kept pushing through with what you were dealing with in those hard times.”
She decided to close the event with an activity called Make Your Own Semicolon, where people could paint semicolons as they listen to music, be immersed in their artwork, and have fun. Emily Tolbert ‘20, co-president of PC Active Minds, said of the event, “With this, I think it is really special, too, because it has such a strong message of hope and resilience and then people get to take it home with them as well.” Active Minds uses creativity, self-expression, and relaxation through art to provide an outlet for their Friar family.
This activity, along with the 80 different posters hung around campus that feature images and quotes emphasizing that “everyone in Friartown is behind you,” beautifully captures how these small things can mean the world to people, especially when we do not know what others are going through. We walk by one another every day but rarely imagine what is going on in someone else’s life. Tolbert mentioned, “Everyone is going to go through a time where they feel like giving up, where they feel like they are going through a struggle that they feel alone in or that they can’t share with others.” This activity and club encourages us to be open and truly embrace the concept of the Friar family. As Howell said, “Just like everyone has physical health, everyone has mental health.”
Through the Semicolon Project, PC Active Minds spread the word about mental health, helping to normalize discussions about mental well-being on campus. This project allowed the student organization to further fulfill its mission to decrease the negative stigma around mental illness. As one of the last events in October, Mental Health Awareness Month, the Semicolon Project drove home a memorable message.