My Final Farewell Advice

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It doesn’t take long for many to point out to me that I am often cynical. This is something that I have come to realize in my past three years at Holderness, and with only a few days left on this campus, there is no better time to share my reflections on what Holderness has taught me about conforming to a certain mindset.


The past year, whether analyzing the school concert or having a heated discussion about a universally loved book, my advisor was always quick to point out that I’m usually quite critical. Regardless of the subject matter, I spend time picking apart every detail of things, and it’s usually hard to get a purely optimistic response from me. But this article isn’t about me, it’s about how Holderness has enhanced this trait and how I have become increasingly aware of the sense of negativity on campus.


On any given day in Weld, whether at lunch or during an afternoon free-block, I’m always curious to hear about the complaints people have to share. Three years ago as a new sophomore, I would be quick to join in; it was always a way to get a conversation going on the path or connect with someone as I sat next to them at a Weld table. Over the years, however, I find myself more and more frequently trying to play devil’s advocate or come up with some explanation for the newest bout of negativity. I found that this complaining mindset was incredibly contagious, and in a seemingly endless whirlwind of complaints and grievances, I try to serve as some sort of optimism, despite the annoyances it causes to many of my peers.


My time at Holderness has taught me to not take things for granted. I have become increasingly aware of this in an unusual way. For anyone who has watched me play soccer knows by now, I have difficulty breathing when playing sports. Breathing is one of those things where you don’t give it a second thought until you’re no longer able to do it. This goes back to not taking for granted the opportunities Holderness has given each and every one of us. I don’t think many people give sit-down dinner a second thought, besides the grumble that comes with having to get back into dress code. And most people don’t get overly excited when Head’s House is open as a weekend activity. But just remember, while these things feel like a normal, monotonous routine by now, it’s not something that will be there for us forever. So, as I like to phrase it, take advantage of these things, but don’t take them for granted.


So where does this all connect? As I reflect back on my time at Holderness, I feel fortunate to have spent the last three years in such a place. However, despite the privilege that it is to be here, by no means does that mean the school is perfect. Like I said at the beginning of this article, in many ways I am critical. But, I try to be skeptical of everything around me, not negative. Instead of joining into the constant jabber about the newest complaint on campus, I have tried to enjoy the time that I have here and take action to change that which is not ideal. I see a great difference in being skeptical and being negative. We shouldn’t just accept everything that is thrown our way, we should speak up about what is important to us. But, you can still do that while recognizing how lucky to be where we are.


So I challenge you to think about these couple of things the next time you go to complain about 8:00 AM starts, a long Sports assembly, or having to hike up to Outdoor Chapel. As I am recognizing now more than ever, your time here is limited, so make the most of it. And maybe even more importantly, this school isn’t perfect, nothing is. But the best way to give back to the school is to take initiative on the things that bother you. Be skeptical, but don’t be negative.