Embracing Growth and Modern Thinking
It would be easy to start this article discussing the current state of the world and how, amongst greater social disarray, the coronavirus has upended my final term at Lawrenceville.
It would be easy to start this article discussing the current state of the world and how, amongst greater social disarray, the coronavirus has upended my final term at Lawrenceville. Yet as I sit on my couch, starting season five of the TV series Lost, I both cheesily and meaningfully reach the conclusion that Lawrenceville is much more than a location but a community of people eager to learn and resilient in the face of hardship. As Lawrentians, we push ourselves to take the hardest classes and learn the most difficult material—and it pays off. While we may be away from campus, Lawrenceville is and always will be with me. The academic opportunities that I have had have completely changed my way of thinking, giving me a direction for the future and a newfound sense of resilience.
Let me back up to a few months. Due to a last-minute switch in my schedule, my senior electives got swapped around so that I landed in Dr. Von’s Makers of the Modern Mind class. I cannot express how many existential crises I had as we journeyed from Darwin to Marx to Kierkegaard, from Dostoevsky to Nietzsche all in the name of determining what makes a philosophical thinker “modernist.”
The class quickly joined Physics and Mechanics as my favorite, and the two sections interacted to expand my level of thinking far beyond what I could have imagined. Ideas like superposition in quantum mechanics detailing how something can exist as two things at the same time merged with defining the meaning of “truth,” expanding my initial surface-level understanding of these respective subjects. I felt as if I had been transported back in time to a little kid who looks at everything with wonder and curiosity and a determination to understand how everything works.
Thanks to Makers, sitting on my couch watching Lost is no longer just a viewing of attractive people marooned on an island, but a thought exercise in the meaning of “good” versus “evil” and finding the balance between skepticism and faith. My classes at Lawrenceville have inspired me to pursue engineering with a philosophy minor in college so I can continue to foster a dialogue between the methods of thinking, forever chasing the exhilarating feeling of curiosity and discovery. I view the world differently now and because of my Lawrenceville classes; I have a newfound sense of purpose and exploration.
Yet as much as I enjoyed those classes, they were also some of the hardest classes I took at this School. If there’s one thing I want to impart from my experience with Makers, it’s that life doesn’t always go as expected, but wherever I end up, I will and should proceed with full effort and fascination. Makers reshaped my way of thinking, but I also had to work for it to do so. It was tempting to look up the SparkNotes version of The Origins of the Species but by tackling the dense German philosophy one sentence at a time, I learned and I grew. Similarly, Physics and Mechanics was a class that challenged me at every turn. Yet I found a way to push through and enjoy it. Through these two classes, I learned that the most difficult things are often the most worthy of our time and that if one is interested in a subject, he or she will find a way to succeed and thrive. So as I say goodbye to Lawrenceville, here’s my last message for all of you: Take that hard class, because it will teach you about more than the subject—it will teach you about yourself. Allow yourself to be challenged and take the classes that challenge your way of thinking. A grade doesn’t define you—you define yourself, and true passion is more valuable than any letter. After all, it is only when you step outside of what you know to be safe that you truly start to grow and learn about yourself.