Trinity Lake. Kanapali Beach, Maui. My mom’s arms, my dad’s hands, my sister’s laughter. Crossfit at 9am. A softball diamond. Teeing off on the first hole. Sitting bow at the finish line. Sunken into the sand on a Malibu beach. My backyard on a Saturday morning (coffee necessary). Home.

These are my happy places. They’re places where I know I’m the truest and purest version of myself. Each place has a piece of me, and each place has inspired and influenced me in my twenty (almost twenty-one) years.

It’s no big secret that LA isn’t my final destination. Yeah, it’s been great for college, but there’s so much of me that isn’t here. To start with basics: my family. They’re everything to me, and not having them here for the important (and unimportant) events in my life has been a lot harder than I ever anticipated. I have incredible friends who know me better than I do and a beautiful hometown that holds the memories of my childhood. So, it’s hard. It’s hard to be away in LA and to still feel connected. (Note: more on staying connected–coming soon) But regardless of my location and the (numerous) ways it makes me feel, there’s one thing I do to make sure I stay me, even in LA.

I surround myself with home. I go places and find spots that bring me home and remind me of: who I am, who I’m striving to be and what I value. I create space for me–space where I can escape and refocus my life.

Read: These places are by no means my dream spaces, but hey, I’m in college! If my room were a Pottery Barn catalog and all my day trips were to Bali, I’d have nothing to look forward to (or work for). It’s the simple scenery and the smallest of details that make each day that much better and that much brighter.

Keep doing you, and keep creating space that takes you to your happy place. Cue: summer vacation, Hawaii and bottomless Mai Tais. Can you tell I’m drowning in the stress of finals? Hang in there.