One Last Lecture by Alex Fernandez ’14
Today, at the risk of sounding like an ancient artifact, I’d like to share with you how the Outing Club will be the gift that keeps on giving (long after you’ve left W&L).
Believe me, I could speak to you endlessly about how amazing your time in the OC will be while you still call yourself a student, but today I challenge you to look more broadly, at what may seem like a place far off in the horizon (or maybe too close for comfort).
I truly believe that much of my success as a human being comes from skills I fostered while in the Outing Club. If your experience is anything like mine, here are a few things the OC will prepare you for once you leave the wondrous city of Lexington:
1. In the working world you will continue to be in situations where you are forced into a group of people you don’t know, and though it is uncomfortable, you will need to push yourself to get out there and work with the team. You think this only happens during those awkward OC icebreakers? NO! It happens all the time! So get all the practice the OC will give you. ME-SO-YOU as much as your heart desires! Play the animal game, be goofy, and laugh a little, it will make your life easier, even when you’re an “adult”!
2. Picture this scenario: You’ve been hiking for 6 hours and you’re tired. And then it starts raining. And then you fall on your behind in the mud and you feel like your dignity has been stripped as you realize that’s not just mud, there’s something else (cow poo) in that puddle! Are you familiar with that feeling? Well, unfortunately, that very same feeling will find you far off in your future even in places far off the trail (a cubicle perhaps). But one thing you will have practiced during your time in the OC is perseverance. Is it easy to go without toilets and showers for a week? For heaven’s sake, NO! But do you deal with the dirty stuff in pursuit of something greater (an experience of a lifetime, a chance to connect with nature, etc.)? Of course you do. Learning how to see the big picture and be comfortable with the dirty stuff will pay dividends throughout your life.
3. One thing you will have to do once you move away from Lexington is take care of yourself. You know: cook, clean, eat, show up to work/school on time, bathe/cloth yourself, pay bills, etc. Sounds simple right? Easier said than done, perhaps. On OC trips you learn a sense of independence that comes with a healthy dose of responsibility. Can’t go hiking without packing water. It sure will be hard to see after dark without a headlamp. Lighting things on fire is probably a bad idea (though sometimes fun). These are the small ah-ha lessons that enable you to chase more liberating experiences. That sense of maturity will also help you remember a belt or your keys on the way out the door too (if only my roommate could get that one down).
And last but not least…
4. When you’ve been out of school for a while and things are starting to get a little monotonous, let that sense of wonder you cultivated during your time with the OC continue to yell out from the depths of your soul. Let it say “GO TO NEPAL, you jaded old workhorse!” At which point you should go! The greatest gift the OC gave me was a sense of wonder and adventure that I hope no years of work or old age will ever extinguish. I wish that each and every one of you find that same drive for excitement and desire to see the world.
So the next time your thinking about skipping that upcoming rafting trip because you think the people could be weird and it will probably be uncomfortable and maybe even dirty, do yourself a favor and get out there. Your future self will thank you!
Alex Fernandez was an Economics major from San Antonio, Texas. She currently lives in Washington D.C. with her significant other, who fittingly enough, she met through the Outing Club. At W&L, Alex was an Appalachian Adventure trip leader and Key Staff. She participated in Gila, Zion, and Everglades trips and has been on four international Outing Club trips (Kilimanjaro, Slovenia, Peru, and Nepal). This girl loves the OC.
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