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Opinion

Student reminisces on challenges faced in life, attempts to find bravery

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October 17, 2013

While driving to my family’s favorite vacation spot this last summer, we passed along a road that should not mean much to anyone; it is just simply a road.

As I looked out of my window from where I sat three years ago on this very same road in this very same car, I suddenly felt the hint of tears in my eyes as the mood of my family quickly shifted from the pure anticipation of a promising vacation to solemn silence.

Our eyes were glued to the side of the road and our minds trapped in a memory. I saw where we were three years ago on the side of that road, an ambulance, my unconscious body and my little sister’s tears. I will never forget my twin brother’s tears when each family member took turns coming in to see me in a random hospital in the middle of nowhere. I had never seen him cry before. After all, he was my big, strong, tough brother. He was my superman.

Three years ago was my first seizure, the moment that completely changed my young life.
It is amazing how one event can impact your life so quickly and lead to new transitions in your life that you never thought you would have to adjust to. As I look back to that day and the frantic weeks that followed, I wonder how I got through it. I wonder how anyone gets through rapid changes that occur in their lives that are probably much worse than the situation I found myself in. I think of my family’s worried looks, the tests and everyone tiptoeing around me.

I doubt that I was brave or that I got through this tough time in my life with grace. I doubt that I grew from the experience or became a better and more thankful person. I like to believe that I rose to the occasion, but the truth is that I was just a scared teenager who turned into an adult still trying to figure things out.

We all go through those bad experiences that make us want to come out the other side as better people. Whether it is something horrible like cancer or a death of a loved one to just having a couple crappy days in a row or dealing with a bad breakup. We want to be those people who can look back and be happy that these things happened to us because it made us who we are today. We want ourselves to be no longer cynical of the bad things and
ever more grateful of the good things, but that does not always happen.

The truth is that we all want to look back and see how we handled situations bravely, but sometimes that is just not the case. Sometimes you do not grow from your experiences and do not become stronger. Sometimes you do not learn that valuable lesson that you are supposed to take away from bad experiences.

Life is not always like an after school special where at the end of the day we can sit down and say what we learned, being once again content with our lives and what exactly happened to have us learn that important lesson.  Sometimes you just simply have to get through it and adjust and keep living, because sometimes that is really all you can do, and maybe you will end up finding bravery on the other side after all.

Natalie Howell is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during the 2016-2017 academic year.