Holding on

Holding on

Sep 12
Ariel Majewski, ACES Visual Marketing Intern
  

It’s good to be back at school.

I’m refreshed. I’m no longer sleep-deprived. I’m sick of watching YouTube videos all day (ok that’s a lie). But most importantly, I’m ready to apply some summer life lessons to my junior year on campus.

Have you ever heard of the quote, “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education”? Well, I would like to add my own spin to that phrase: “Carry your outside education to your schooling.” Because I truly believe the insights I learned this summer while traveling will help me succeed at this learning institution.

In early August, my mom and I visited Zion National Park in Utah. Although we’re avid hikers, I admit that we were not prepared for the steep incline. At least, not on our first day of acclimating to high altitudes and 96-degree heat. So we slowly marched our way up, steering away from the constant drop-offs to our right.

But that’s not even the challenging part of the story. The trail spur we wanted to explore was farther up ahead, called Angel’s Landing.

On this peak, there were short strips of chains mounted to the red, wrinkled stones. If there was ever a time you didn’t want to look down, it was while climbing up this hour-long journey. One misstep and you could become one of the trail’s “fallen angels,” so to speak.

I fell forward as my sweaty palm grasped the first chain. Surprisingly I could tug it farther away from mountain side than I thought possible. Now comfortable with the chain’s sturdiness, I started to swing from one to another, letting my inner-Tarzan take control.

Ten minutes later, the vertical grade rose sharply. A narrow ledge was the only way to cross to the next safe resting point.

Getting across was thrilling and frightening at the same time.

Groups of people from all over the world were clinging to this one large chain. Since it was being pulled from different directions, it strapped itself to the wall rather than loosely dangling like the others.

Here I was, holding on to the same metallic lifeline with everyone else. I couldn’t understand anyone. Foreign languages echoed off the walls. We had come from different directions of life, but at this moment we were all cultures and backgrounds were linked together, stepping forward with a common goal.

Even though I was 1,600 miles away, I felt closer to school than ever. At U of I, we’re all climbing the heights of education and employment opportunities at our own pace. We didn’t put ourselves in this position just to survive--we enjoy the thrill of accomplishments, the thrill of finding the path that we want to succeed on.

When you’re looking up, you wonder how on earth you’re going to get to the top. And then you remember there are those chains. There are mentors there to guide you along the way. Some may be there for short periods of time. You may hold on to others throughout your entire college career and beyond.

And when I climbed forward through Angel’s Landing, I didn’t care what type or size of chain it was--I grabbed onto it wholeheartedly. Even if someone’s links of experience through life are smaller than mine, they can still be a mentor. As a junior, I have to remember that. I’m not only to serve as a role model, but to always learn from my peers and underclassmen. Your fellow peers’ work ethic, personality, and character can motivate and inspire the way you live your life.

You may be a mentor for someone--even someone that you look up to--and not know it.

Throughout my life, no matter how much experience I gain, I always hope to have a wide selection of mentors of all cultures and ages on my journey. I intend to keep climbing--I don’t know where exactly, but as long as I hold on, I’ll find myself along the way.