Judgement-free Hospitality

by Liberty Liu, student

Growing up in a big family, I was constantly surrounded with loud warm voices echoing within the walls. Despite being someone who kept to myself, it wasn't hard to gain a sense of community (and a few stitches) being 4 kids stuck together with imagination and a few chairs. I'm a very lucky person: even when I felt most alone, I knew I wasn't truly -- at the very least, in proximity, I always had 3 younger siblings there to have my back.

It's an understatement to say I had trouble adjusting to university.

The quiet of my dimly lit dorm room became a blaring reminder of what I lost. Regardless of what is being left behind, feelings of isolation are not uncommon among first years during the transition to university. When I found Open Circles in second semester, my life was repainted with colour. Cleverly named so, Open Circles was a place where I always felt welcome -- to listen, to share, to be. Through the Becoming Yourself Series, I learned to be comfortable with silence and what all visiting thoughts have to offer me; to give them the same kind judgement-free hospitality I was offered. And when I grew and began to flourish, Open Circles provided me the opportunity to volunteer and pay it forward: to the Hamilton community, and other students in our collective journeys.

Since my first year at McMaster, loss has visited many more times, and to a much greater extent.

Unfortunate numbers of people are collectively grieving around the world. We mourn for loved ones who have passed from sickness, for the evasion of 'normal' life as we knew it, for lives violently taken by systemic injustices, and more. I've been able to channel my emotions into empathy and actions, and Open Circles has given me both creative and service-based opportunities to do so. My involvement in Open Circles has facilitated my journey to heal relationships with myself, loved ones, and society as a whole. Words can't describe the wealth of care I've received, and I have so much love and appreciation for their role in my life.