Columns / Discourse / November 14, 2018

Monterey on ‘running on empty’

As I get closer to the halfway point of my senior year, I want to reflect on the many obstacles and changes I have gone through. Being an RA, a former caller for admissions, a lab assistant, and the president of Senate, each helped shape who I am now.

I would be lying if I said that everything was going smoothly. Working in crises as an RA, working my hardest to develop and instill hope in student representatives in Senate, and maintaining my main reason to be here — my education, have all left me emotionally and physically drained. With that said, no matter how many times someone might reaffirm your worth or validate your feelings, it only takes a few negative experiences to help someone spiral into self-doubt and indecision. I am a firm believer in lived experience. And I was disheartened that there are those who feel I have not given enough when I myself already feel empty.

That is why I have to remind myself of lived experiences. We’re all experts on ourselves, and all of our emotions are real. These are some of the things nobody will ever be able to take away. In particular, Senate has taken a toll on me and the executive committee internally. Externally, important issues are being brought up which require nuanced discussion. I applaud our senators on working critically and thoroughly to ensure a better future for Knox and those who will study and learn here ahead of us. Even as a senior who has been here many years and has been through one controversy after another, it only took some small reassuring from some people, including a freshman, for me to snap out of my daze. You’re all the reason why I care so much about the people here and this institution.

Frankly, even after years of being here, I am still in awe of what Knox can be. I thought “being yourself” was an imaginative term that only existed in concept. Yet, I find that being who I am wholeheartedly is accepted here. Of course, there are always critics. However, they are few and far inbetween. I am thankful of the many friends, new and old, who supported me. We push each other to become better people and hold each other accountable when we know we can do better.

So when it feels like the whole world just wants you to shut up or for you to bend to its will, remember that there are people who trust you and believe in you. Even if others misrepresent you or drown you out, keep forging ahead. Not only that, there are those who look to you as a leader. Seniors have juniors looking up to them. Juniors have sophomores. Freshmen have those from back home and high schoolers.

Remember these things if you ever feel you need to reassure yourself about the future you want to make for those who will come after you. Continue being open-minded and curious. Learn from those different than you. Be a voice for those who are voiceless. This is why we’re a liberal arts college; we’re meant to free ourselves and explore the world around us with the hope to make this a better world for all. This was a difficult fall term. Maybe not for all, but I hope we can all continue as a community to move forward and learn from each other while we try to plug up the holes in this plane that we’re flying.

Have a good winter break!


Leonard Monterey

Tags:  mental health President senate

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