With Thanksgiving just passed and the holiday season quickly approaching, this seems as good a time as any to stop and consider the aspects of our lives for which we are thankful. I believe it to be a fundamental fact of humanity that who we are—who we have ever been, who we currently are and who we have the potential to become—is the sum total of the experiences we have had and the people we have met along the way.
In yourself, you should see an intricate puzzle consistent of every conversation you have ever had; all of the disappointment; all of the success; all of the breakups; and the people who put you back together once the storm had passed. All of these things are communal and would be impossible or meaningless to press through alone. We are nothing more than a unique and enigmatic mix of the places, events and people that we have experienced—this is the beautiful element that creates diversity. And for this reason, I think it is valuable to take a minute to think about those who have had the greatest impact on us.
Humanity is community; if someone has had a resounding positive effect on you, why not pay it forward?
From my teammates and coaches, especially those at CSU Tri, I have learned the importance of humility. The thing that I love most about athletics and being part of a team is that one individual doesn’t have absolute power over our success. It’s an entirely collective effort that would feel really empty without the ability of all to share in the success. In the world of athletics, things are always changing; you never know what is going to be thrown at you next. And because of this, and all my years as an athlete, I’ve learned what it truly means to be humbled. As hard as you might work, there’s always someone out there working harder; someone with more on the line; someone who wants it just a little bit more.
From my experience studying abroad, and especially the relationships that formed throughout that journey, I have learned the importance of resilience. On our trek through Pacha Mama’s lair—cleverly disguised as Torres del Paine National Park—one of my backpacking buddies faced so many obstacles, yet managed to stand up every single time with a laugh in her heart and a smile on her face. They may have been small triumphs, but when taken in an allegorical sense, that journey taught the importance of being able to bounce back from whatever unpredictable and unexpected events life throws at you.
From my mother, I have learned the importance of self-efficacy; not believing that you can be anything you want to be, but that you can be everything you want to be. She taught me the importance of being your own advocate and continues to teach the importance of giving a voice to those who have not been afforded that luxury.
From those closest to me, I have been taught the incredible power of music and its ability to get into your soul in exactly the right way when you need it most. These folks have taught me the importance of letting music create a soundtrack to accompany your journey; equipping and empowering yourself with the knowledge that as long as you have some headphones, you’ll be able to find whatever you might be searching for. These people have shown me that the same logic applies to everyday life—we all need to have that person who knows us better than anything; who can be exactly what we need and who is familiar with the journey that has made us into who we are now.
I have been taught that life is made up of two things—experiences and our reaction to those experiences. I’ve further experienced that you can’t always control both of those at the same time. Some things happen seemingly without explanation; sometimes our reactions make no sense. But from all of this, we can extrapolate that life hands us certain events because we are meant to extract something from them. Life is a constant ebb and flow of teaching and being taught. Life is meant to be tangible and concrete but simultaneously intangible and esoteric; absorbed, yet analyzed with perspicacity.
But most importantly, I’ve learned that it’s the people you meet along the way that instill meaning upon our otherwise ancillary existence. I suppose the point of this retrospective is to remind myself (and anyone who chooses to take something from this) that human experience is intrinsically communal in nature. In my experience, I’ve learned that the “we’re all in this together” cliché is oddly prophetic. So whatever you’re interested in, whatever you’re striving for, whoever you hope to become—there’s someone out there trying to do the same thing.
To those of you who have exemplified this, to those who I’ve met along the way—I give you my thanks.
Geneva Mueller is a senior political science and international studies double major. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.