If I had to sum up this year in one word, it would be “humbling.” My junior year here was one of the most difficult — and rewarding — years of my life, for a variety of reasons. I came into this year stumbling a bit. I spent last semester abroad (as most of you probably know, since I still can’t stop talking about it), and so reintegrating into Loras’ community and culture took a bit of time. It was a lot more difficult than I was expecting. While in Ireland I wasn’t a part of any extracurricular activities, the homework load was relatively light because I was taking less credits than I did back home, and the most drama I had to deal with was the time I accidentally I missed by bus from the Norwegian airport into Oslo’s city center. Safe to say I was in my own little world abroad, and returning to Loras was exciting, long-awaited, but at the same time, extremely stressful. I had to reteach myself how to say no to things, manage my time, balance a social life, work and school, as well as being able to participate in the fast-paced and loud American culture again.
On top of all this, I was training for a marathon, working as editor-in-chief of “The Lorian” and “Catfish Creek,” and taking 17 credits. I can’t complain though, because I knew what I was getting into. I didn’t always handle it well, but I did my best. I learned a lot though about myself and how much stress I am mentally and physically able to endure in the process. There were long nights and lots of tears but also lots of laughs and moments of utter joy that I experienced in all of these endeavors. As cliche as all this sounds, I have to really emphasize how it wasn’t always smooth sailing, but a complete tornado of emotion. It was all worth it in the end. And just to throw in one more cliche for good measure… what didn’t kill me made me stronger. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Wow, I’m on a roll!
Anyway, I’ve had my fair share of mistakes this year — probably more than I care to think about. But doing so forced me to keep my perfectionism in check and learn to be a little easier on myself. It truly humbled me to realize that, as the years go on, I’ll probably just make more and more, with more severe consequences, as I grow up and enter the real world. And that fact is utterly terrifying, but I still can’t help but feel so excited for what the future has in store. Thankfully, I still have one more year, because I don’t know if I’m quite as ready as our seniors are to leave the Duhawk nest.
Besides my academics, my social life also proved to take some readjusting to. I had a very small circle of friends abroad, and so coming back to such a tight-knit and much larger community at Loras was difficult for me. I’m very much a private person, and I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with the rate that information spreads here. Once again though, I was humbled in my thinking. It really hit me this year that no one owes anyone anything, and people aren’t always going to give you the benefit of the doubt. There will be people that don’t really like you, and even strongly dislike you, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. The most you can do is stay true to yourself and your decisions and walk through life how you want to, whether you’re dancing, walking, skipping, running or whatever.
The last thing that I was humbled by was the fact that I realized how essential a strong core of people in your life is. My friends and family saved me this year. Whether I was stressed about school or work or whatever, they were there offering a word of encouragement. And another source of great support for me this year? My professors. One of the greatest things about Loras is our ability to connect so much with our faculty and staff. Whether it was a friendly wave from Mick, a kind word from Jane or a “Keep going, you guys got this!” from one of my professors, I always felt like I had a whole team of support behind us. Having a strong support system through these four years is essential, even for someone like me that prides myself on the ability to spend lots of time alone and be independent. No matter how much our society prides itself on its ability to be self-made, we need other people to thrive, and I realized how much I truly need them and want them by my side through this crazy ride.
Finally, I sincerely want to thank all of those that read this column throughout the year. You guys are pretty cool. Thanks for sticking with me, too.