Hard Times Teach Us The Most
This column was distributed by Heather Domonoske ’13.
I arrived at Whitman looking for a fresh start and the ability to find myself. I pictured smiles, new friends, excursions, dynamic classes, falling in love with four seasons and more. Instead, I was bombarded with a multitude of moments where I struggled to find the light at the end of the tunnel—where were the promised 300 days of sunshine?
As my time at Whitman passed, I learned where to find the sunshine. I got my first A on an Encounters paper. I was accepted to live in Tamarac. Thirty-one boys sang to me in the Jewett Dining Hall on Valentine’s Day. I stood with 12 others and held up my grand-slammer scramble swag. I passed my oral defense and many, many more. Those are all YOLO moments I could add to my Facebook album called “Whitman.” But, at the end of the day when I look back at my Whitman experience, the moments I will remember the most are often attached to those hard, unexpected challenges I faced.
Hard and unexpected experiences are the building blocks for the good times. They are the reason why going out on Friday night feels so good, or why late-night conversations freshman year on your way to brush your teeth lead to lifelong friendships. When we are pushed to our limits, when we have spent hours upon hours on our thesis and just want to scream, we open up the doors to moments we never imagined. Grades are important, but learning … learning is what will get us where we want to go, or maybe where we don’t. And that’s okay too.
Today we are faced with the terrifyingly awesome experience of moving away from Whitman. In some ways we are more prepared for the hard moments to come thanks to our Whitman experience. However, by leaving Whitman we are leaving behind the support group we have created to get us through challenges. What we have to remember is that the Whitman community is going nowhere and we created friendships upon a foundation that is hard to break.
We have lived with each other for four years. We have seen each other at our best and at our worst and we are finishing together. I am constantly amazed by the power of relationships formed at Whitman. Let those relationships and the lessons we learned at Whitman be the foundation of our future. Do not cast shadows on them because they are the past, but also be aware not to paint them too green. The YOLO days in the photos, they had their hard parts; the difference is that now we can see the beauty in those moments. We have learned from them.
But even knowing the Whitman community is not gone, there will still be the moments we feel totally alone, lost and confused, just like so many of us have felt at one point or another during these last four years. In these moments, know that they provide a learning opportunity the brighter moments do not. Know that by pushing through, we will end up with stories we never imagined and before we know it, we will be back in Walla Walla for our 10-year reunion, and those hard moments may be the most influential on our journey after Whitman.
Whitman has been an exceptional experience. We have paid the price and received a plethora of rewards, many intangible and some of which we will not reap for many years to come. We are moving on, which is scary as hell but also exhilarating. The rush of adrenaline that comes with the next chapter can be at times too much to handle, but we have to remember that just because we are leaving Whitman campus, that does not mean we are not taking a lot of Whitman with us and that the learning stops.
We are entering a phase in which we may be more aware of the challenges to come, but we must remember to embrace them, to learn from them and to know that in one way or another, they too will lead to moments of joy and fulfillment. And remember, don’t stop learning and pick more daisies.