Jansen: Home


Home. While it’s normally known as a place, your home can be anything. It can be the walls of your childhood bedroom as well as the school building where you discovered your passions. It can be a warm hug from a family member or laughter with friends. In each one of our lives, we can define the feeling of home. From pure satisfaction and bliss to feeling at peace, we all have the places, people, and things that bring us comfort in hard times. A song sung by the ADM choirs each year in celebration of the seniors, “The Road Home”, composed by Stephen Paulus, captures this idea of home. As we adventure on to new journeys and new beginnings home is always there. That even through darkness, we will never forget where we come from. We will find our road home. 


Tell me, where is the road

I can call my own

That I left, that I lost

So long ago

All these years I have wandered

Oh, when will I know

There’s a way, there’s a road

That will lead me home


Freshman year of high school, I did not know if I would find my road home. To be fair, I didn’t even know where home was. I felt vulnerable and scared, starting high school alone and not knowing what to expect. Throughout the year, I went headfirst into activities and didn’t know where to stop. On top of playing travel softball, basketball, and trying track, I explored more of my interest in choir. I joined the jazz choir, learning about a different style of music and creating bonds with people I didn’t know too well. I was happy and excited, settling into a mix of athletics and fine arts. As the school year came to an end, I was inspired to join a new class: News. While I was excited about the opportunity, my intentions behind it were flawed. I was following a boy. I was starry-eyed and hopeful, and I wanted to explore a passion he enjoyed. I went in and talked to the advisor, and she said she would see what she could do. I wanted to dive into new activities and find new adventures, creating a high school experience I will never forget. 


After wind, after rain

When the dark is done

As I wake from a dream

In the gold of day

Through the air there’s a calling

From far away

There’s a voice I can hear

That will lead me home


I almost found a new home Sophomore year of high school. Around March, I hit the lowest point of my life. I was stranded in the darkness and didn’t know how to escape. I just wanted light. I  don’t remember much about the year, except that I changed my focus from athletics to the fine arts.  I still played competitive softball, but I also joined the musical. I spent my fall in white makeup singing about the Addams family. I continued to be active in the choir. I joined the speech, which resulted in me ending my basketball season in the first five minutes of practice to make it to tryouts. I decided to join the mock trial, dipping my toes into more challenging public speaking. I surrounded myself with upperclassmen on the yearbook staff, being the lone 10th grader on an incredibly huge project. I made new relationships and strengthened the bond I had with others. I had a full schedule, and no time to think. I should have been happy. But I wasn’t. The countless hours of distractions and business weren’t enough. I couldn’t escape the panic. It crept up on me when I didn’t expect it. From schoolwork to my activities, I was drowning in my head. I couldn’t breathe, and every time I tried to I gasped for air. I couldn’t escape the intense emotions. I was exhausted. I was exhausted from feeling so sad, so helpless. From not being able to feel worth. The despair turned from sadness to misery and I was ready to give up. I was done. Days after the school year ended, I was admitted into the Iowa Luthern hospital’s adolescent psychiatric inpatient services. I spent a week in the hospital and followed it with two weeks of outpatient treatment. That June I learned that hope is an incredibly powerful feeling. I emerged from my low and managed to rejoin the path towards the rest of my life. 


Come away, is the call

With the love in your heart

As the only song

There is no such beauty

As where you belong


I found my people in my junior year of high school. From a foreign exchange student to the new girl who moved in her senior year, the theater nerd and the token gay kid, I found my band of misfits. I belonged. I also dove deeper into my passions. I got to act like a fool on the stage in a blonde curly wig and a horrible accent. I explored my love of photography and got to experience something that not many student journalists could: having the same press credentials as major news companies covering political rallies. I was instantly hooked on the process of campaigning and how such small towns in Iowa played a huge role in deciding the next leader of our country. I knew it as what I wanted to do for the rest of my life- political communications were my calling. Months later when Covid hit and life as we knew it was different, the bonds I had with my friends only increased. I got the chance to deepen connections with those around me and focus on myself. I created a new home, one where I found love for myself and felt loved. 


Rise up, follow me

I will lead you home


Senior year, I fought to reach new heights. I finally have a purpose. I’m committed to college and I dove deeper into my extracurriculars and created relationships I will cherish forever. Even with all the positives, I felt that something was missing. There was a piece of me that wasn’t there. It was the lack of inspiration. Questions flooded my mind throughout the year: Why should I have focus? Why should I try? Why should I care? These thoughts lingered with me for the end of the year. I was so ready to leave, to join my new path towards greater things that I forgot about all that I have learned. Reflecting on these past four years of high school, I now understand how the relationships I have made, the hardships I faced, and my accomplishments have made me into the person I am today. I will use this knowledge as I adventure into the future, and I will never forget where I came from. I will always know that I have a road home.