What Do Railroad Tracks Have To Do With My Life?

What Do Railroad Tracks Have To Do With My Life?

Polarizing emotions can leave us defeated until we learn to embrace them.


Have you ever noticed that life often has two tracks moving simultaneously? Sure, there are seasons of life that are better than others, but life is never either fully perfect or completely horrible. Our journeys are a constant balance between some great events happening during difficult times or vice versa.

I often picture railroad tracks: the train balances on each side of the track yet is in the midst of both tracks. There's no way to avoid either one of the tracks because the train will always have to be involved with both sides. Similarly, we are constantly experiencing both good and bad things in our lives. Maybe your friend just got engaged while you're going through a tough break-up. Of course, you're feeling emotional about the break-up, but you also want to be excited for your friend . . . railroad tracks.

How is it that so much good can happen amidst so much trauma?

The best answer I have right now is that's just life. I heard recently that life is 5% good times and 95% tough times. We as humans typically believe that it should be the other way around with life being 95% good, but that's really not the case. If anything, we have constant difficulties interrupted by wonderful moments of peace and happiness. We just tend to see it as the opposite since we expect life to be good a majority of the time. Recognizing that we will never have times of 100% pure happiness or 100% pure despair is a step in the right direction.

As much as we want it to be, life isn't black and white, and compartmentalization isn't healthy.

I can tell you from personal experience that compartmentalization is definitely not the answer. There are two railroad tracks that work in tandem moving through the gray area in our lives whether we know it or not. Life is meant to be one big, beautiful experience - not one with separate lives and differing personalities.

Sure, some people bring out different qualities in us, but that is totally okay and quite different from compartmentalizing.

Instead of separating parts of our lives in thousands of tiny boxes, let's learn to embrace the gray area! Rejoice in the fact that you are alive and able to experience the emotions you do. Someone recently told me that life has seasons and whether good or bad, they all come to an end. If we are constantly chasing after that "perfect" life and neglecting the more ugly parts of our lives, we aren't truly living.

What parts of your life are happening simultaneously? Maybe you're excelling in your English class but are struggling to get along with your roommate. Maybe you're celebrating the birth of your sister's newborn baby while you're mourning the loss of your grandfather. The list could go on and on.

My point is that we're always going to have good parts of our lives working with and alongside the bad parts.

I know how difficult it is to accept every aspect of your life, but think of how free you could be if you let go of trying to separate everything and embraced the emotions - laughter, tears, and everything in between. Life's too short to get caught up in a never-ending attempt to be perfect. Having the freedom to feel the validity of your conflicting emotions is quite an experience. From my own life, I can tell you that experience can be good or it can be bad. It's a strange place to be in - the polarizing emotions oftentimes fight each other, and you have to let go and see that they can work together if you allow them to.

Railroad tracks were meant to carry the tons of weight from hundreds of trains. They can surely manage conflicting emotions as long as we are willing to give in. Life is a precious gift, and we should make the most of it - railroad tracks and all.

I'd like to thank the station manager at WCIC, Dave Brooks, for lending such powerful insight that inspired this article. He is the one who gave me the wisdom to see and embrace the railroad tracks in my own life, and I hope through this article, he has done the same for you. Thank you, Dave. Forever grateful to be a part of the WCIC family.

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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.

So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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Competition Isn’t Real, So Stop Worrying About What You Think Is Your 'Competition'

When you stop worrying about being better than "your competition," you will succeed.


"What are your plans for after College?" is the one question every college student wishes they could never hear again. After hearing those seven short words, the body of the college student is flooded with waves of irritation, paranoia, and worry.

When you set all your triggered thoughts and anxieties aside and manage to hurl out an answer, you're probably told "That's nice, but how are you going to get a job? That field is so competitive." At this point, you are probably ready to excuse yourself from the conversation for a timely breakdown.

Throughout high school, conversations at family gatherings and holiday parties typically went through this vicious cycle.

A naive junior in high school who was quick to say his major was going to be Musical Theater in college was always infuriated by the response "You'll never find work. That field is so competitive."

After a while, I started to believe it and decided to look elsewhere for a career path. I considered nursing, to where I was told how competitive college nursing programs are, and how little students they accept. I figured I wouldn't stand a chance, so I kept looking.

I circled back to the theater and was reminded by everybody how rigorous the Musical Theater college audition process was, and how they only accept a handful of kids. Surely there were other students more capable than me, and I wasn't going to let the ridiculously annoying boastful comments of theater kids ruin my search for my path in life.

My Dad always reminds me how much money I could make pursuing business, but working a 9-5 desk job dealing with hot-headed businessmen being choked by the tightness of their neckties never appealed me.

I felt fatigued like I was being told that I need to pursue what other people want me to, instead of following my dreams.

At this time I was a senior in High School, and my CommonApp was filled with prospective schools that I might attend, but the "intended major" section part of each application wasn't filled.

The loud "you can't" and "you'll NEVER get work" boomed in my ear until I was convinced I couldn't follow my dreams of becoming an actor, so I caved and intended to pursue journalism. I was told by all my teachers I was a gifted writer, so I figured it would be worth a shot.

"You can always do theater on the side," is what I heard. Now in college pursuing journalism, a field I was told: "will be one I can actually get a job in," some professors tell me after graduation, I will be doing journalism "on the side" because of how "competitive" the field is.

All occupational fields are competitive, whether that be communications, business, nursing, etc. Here is one thing that I learned through this experience and many others…

You have no competition.

In the eyes of someone who is hiring for a job, they are going to pick whoever's work they feel best fits the position. This isn't the product of a cutthroat field, it's solely the product of your work fitting the part.

You can't mash two puzzle pieces together because you THINK it's what fits, whatever is meant for you will come to you. Your puzzle pieces will fit together naturally.

In the end, it will come together to form a beautiful picture.

As for me, I decided to tune out the comments about competitive fields. What used to consume me cannot phase me anymore.

I still intend to pursue my dreams of becoming a performer, and at every audition I will remind myself that it is not the field that is competitive, there is no competition. The performer sitting next to me at an open call is not my competition, but my inspiration to work hard to find the job that will best fit me.

In the words of Cinderella, "there is one thing, they can't order me to stop dreaming."

The reporter who grabs every single story shouldn't turn me into someone who viciously grabs every story they can to build their portfolio, it should make me look for stories I WANT to tell that will progress me as a writer. After all, I am still learning.

I learned that I shouldn't belittle other people that are deemed "my competition" to disorient them, giving me a better chance at getting a job. Kindness will be more rewarding than contributing to the vicious dog-eat-dog world.

"I'm not in competition with anyone except who I used to be, and everything I do now is just an evolved version of something I've done before" -Kali Uchis

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