Love, Gaels: ‘Keeping myself company’


Photo made on canva by Niomi Love Gaels Article

For this issue’s “Love, Gaels” column, features & lifestyle editor Niomi Nunez writes about coming to enjoy her own company.

Niomi Nunez, Features & Lifestyle Editor

I grew up in a loud family of six—I am the youngest of four sisters and daughter to a selfless mother and honest father. This means I was constantly surrounded by others. I always had to share a room, a school, a park, a library, a “everything” with my sisters. I didn’t mind when I was a child, but on my 12th winter, I remember looking at my footsteps in the fallen flurries and lusting over the idea of self-identity. Establishing my self-identity became a fixation of mine.  

When I got to Iona, I figured I would be entirely lost without my family right next to me and my sisters far away. At Iona, I could no longer be “daughter of so and so” and “sister to the illustrious so and so”—I had to be me. I just didn’t exactly know how to be me or even be by myself.  

But Iona was the first place where I could sit by myself, with myself and think of all the things I wanted to be. I came to learn quickly that the company of myself wasn’t at all frightening, but something entirely magnificent and even enchanting at times. Iona’s campus being my scenery, I found sitting in the presence of my own company was peacefully enticing and completely necessary if I ever wanted to establish my self-identity.  

I spend a lot of time by myself for that exact reason. People always ask me “why are you all by yourself?” and I want to let everyone know that I’m not “all by myself,” I have the best company out there: me.  

 I find different spots around campus—some of my favorite being the engulfing couches in Ryan Library, the sectioned-off desks in Arrigoni library, the conversing booths in Vitanza Dining commons and the ethereal campus quad—and sit by myself.  

I sit and often think about what it would be like to sit at a table with different past versions of myself. Past, pivotal versions of myself that are crucial for understanding the person I am today. I suppose it would look something like an Eddie-Murphy-type last supper with far less people.  

My current self would be somewhere in the middle of the table, and to my right at the far end would be 18-year-old me with fidgeting hands and a stare that tugs for hope. Sitting directly next to the left of me would be some 4-year-old me; she’d probably be quiet, staring at the food and trustingly holding my hand. We’d be joined with 12-year-old me too insecure to look up, and a 10-year-old me, whose confidence seems insurmountable and impermeable. Of course, there would be more, but the star of the show would be baby me with a head of hair like a bachatero from the ‘70s, smelling like sweet hospital soap, sleeping peacefully and breathing lightly. 

I think they—all of the past versions of myself—would all be proud of me. I think they’d be happy that I chose Iona as a place to grow up in and truly find myself. I think 12-year-old me would find me incredibly cool and smart. I think she’d finally look up from her footsteps in the snow and the insecurities that pressed into the ground with each step, and I think she’d smile.