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The Joy in the Struggle

September 19, 2014

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It is perhaps a universal truth that there is no growth without struggle, which is why all is not lost after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss or why I felt uneasy at halftime of the boys JV soccer game today. We were up 3-0 on our way to a 6-0 win and the only perceivable struggle in front of us was our ability to stay composed in the face of an increasingly chippy, talkative, and frustrated opponent. (I’m proud to say we did.)

As a teenager I gleefully affixed a Ben & Jerry’s bumper sticker on my old truck that read, “If it’s not fun, why do it?” My dad shot me a look when he saw it that was part anger and part wonder at how he could have steered me so wrong. His years as a father of four had correctly informed him that in fact many things in life are not fun. Indeed our struggles can be the fuel for a more fulfilling life.

That was the case for Margaret Wrinkle. This week the author described how it took her ten years to finish her first novel. As a descendant of a slaveholder, she faced tremendous personal and professional struggle writing a novel centered on the horrors of slavery. I’m sure there were times she felt she wouldn’t or couldn’t finish, but she did. The result was critical acclaim and a gift to the world in the form of a story that needed to be told.

I’m proud to see students seeking opportunities to struggle here everyday. There are laurels all over this place, thought it’s rare to see anyone resting on them. They’re struggling in classes, on athletic fields, remembering lines for the play. They’re struggling to be their best selves and often fall short because they’re just beginning to mine the depths of their ability. They get through it and find new strength.

This is of course due to the faculty who are there every step of the way supporting them, coaching, willing them to get back on their feet and take another step forward or swing at an audacious goal. Their presence assures students that anything is possible, but that everything will be okay if they find out it’s not. Our comunications are often filled with great moments, but please be assured that each one was made possible through a clear-eyed willingness on the part of a lot of people to put in the work.

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