200 Days in the Life of the College

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Scared? Uncomfortable? Lean into it

By Jacob Sheetz-Willard ’12

“I can’t do it!” shouts Katharine Tomalonis ’14 as she looks up at the tiny plat­form nestled amongst the trees. “Yes you can!” urges a handful of onlookers. “Lean into it!”

After spending time together in the wilderness, participants in the Adirondack Adventure group have joined other first-year students at the Oswegatchie Educational Center. It provides a further opportunity to meet more members of the incoming class as well as to test one’s mettle on one of the many High Ropes Course elements.

Though standing on a wire 40 feet in the air, protected only by harness and rope, is qualitatively different from any other challenge the students will face during their four years at Hamilton, many see a connection. “I am so happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone,” Tomalonis later concedes. “All of the possible situations on the Hill — living with roommates, meeting new people, managing time and learning to minimize any anxiety — seem so much more manageable than I thought them to be before pre-orientation.”

College is a great opportunity to stand up to new challenges, face old fears and step out of one’s comfort zone. As many departing seniors can attest, the most rewarding and memorable experiences are often the most demanding and uncomfortable. What is Tomalonis’ advice, after conquering her own fears in the forest and on the ropes course? “Embrace the discomfort. Lean into everything, and be open to new relationships — including those with yourself.”