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President's Perch

I was recently asked if being president was fun. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what to say. I’d never associated the word with the job, so the natural response felt like “no, it’s not fun”, so that’s what I said.

I can’t help but think I gave the wrong impression. Maybe I made it sound like I was leading begrudgingly, maybe even that I regretted running in the first place; I most definitely don’t think that. Being president has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my time here, and that’s saying something. No, it’s not fun exactly, but there are those moments when things just about go right, when it feels like we’re making some sort of difference, putting smiles on students’ faces, when I can say I’ve done what I could. Those are the moments, like the recent Thanksgiving food drive—which by the way, was apparently the most successful we’ve had in years thanks to the efforts of Ben and Mr. Goldberg and everyone who donated—the moments that make it all worth it.

Yet for every one of these moments, there’ve been the failures and challenges we’ve had to overcome to get there, whether due to shortcomings or circumstances beyond our control or, most often, a mix of both. At times, I can’t help but feel like these challenges are all it’s been, what’s ultimately defined my presidency, what ultimately defines me. But this is a dangerous mindset, a trap that can hinder getting up and beginning again. In the face of hardship, it’s tempting to stop, to languish in regret. To convert this negative energy, rather, as motivation to keep going, to run harder, is key to any future success. Playing coulda-woulda-shoulda is only useful if we apply it to the next time rather than the last.

I’ve had to adopt some of this attitude as president, as a senior applying to college, as someone, like anyone, who has unfulfilled desires. And I’m grateful for this. It’s the way any of us grow. What is life without a bit of suffering? A bit boring, that’s for sure. Those moments that fail to go the way we want, no matter how much we may expect a certain outcome, those are the moments that make us who we are. The moments that, desired or not, have kept me on my toes and made my presidency and senior year thrilling; not fun exactly, but enriching certainly.

I’m reminded of the PVAC Middle School soccer final vs. WIS, a day of highs and lows, of incredible disappointment but also of incredible learning and incredible support—I’d never seen so many students at a single Abbey sporting event outside of maybe the Invitational. When we took the lead late in the second half, there was, at least briefly, a palpable belief that we were to be crowned champions.

Unparalleled support for our MS soccer team in the final vs. WIS
Unparalleled support for our MS soccer team in the final vs. WIS

But as we know now, despite the best efforts of the team, the job couldn’t be finished thanks to both shortcomings and factors beyond our control. While disappointment was inevitable, it was nevertheless a moment to be proud of, and surely one to reflect on. I’m certain the Middle School team will come back next year full of intent, maybe more than they would’ve had they not lost. And this intent also extends beyond the Middle School team. I know in the current basketball season, lingering disappointment is being turned into extra motivation, especially against WIS.

We each have our struggles, especially at this stage in our lives when nothing quite seems to go how we think it should. As I write this, we’re fast approaching a shared struggle: midterms and the end of the semester. I think we can all say finals aren’t fun, but with the small suffering they provide us, we are made stronger students, or at least more experienced, in some way better prepared for future challenge and adversity. And there will always be future adversity.

If everything I’ve said seems obvious, then good! But I expect and know that when confronting dismay, it all becomes less clear. If you find yourself in that place, as I have several times this semester, I urge you to keep going and find ways to begin again. Whatever ends up happening in this new semester, it may not always be fun, but it’ll be worth it, I promise.

We’ve got a lot left to do.