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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40 Small Things That Make College Students Happy

It doesn't take much...

1. When class is canceled.

2. When the coffee shop you stop at five minutes before your 8 a.m. has a short line.

3. Coffee, coffee, coffee.

4. Open note tests.

5. Or even better, take home tests.

6. The unofficial assigned seating process that that takes place after the first week or so of classes.

7. Thursday nights. (because in college, Thursday qualifies as the weekend.)

8. Sales.

9. Or once again, even better, free things.

10. Specifically free food.

11. Dogs.

12. Dogs on campus.

13. Tailgates and Saturday afternoon football games.

14. Finding an already completed Quizlet for your exam.

15. Having an extra 30 minutes for a nap, and if you're lucky, an hour.

16. Netflix.

17. When your roommate takes out the trash.

18. Weekends after test weeks.

19. The rare blessing of a curve on an exam.

20. Getting out of class early.

21. How in college, it is socially expectable to wear a t-shirt everyday.

22. Being able to walk from class to class or eat in the dining hall without having to see anyone you know. (and thank goodness too because you probably don't look too good.)

23. Crossing things off of your to-do list.

24. Your best-friends that you make in college.

25. A full tank of gas.

26. Seeing a new face everyday.

27. Crawling back into bed after your 8 or 9 a.m. (or after any class that ends with a.m.)

28. Care packages.

29. No cover charges.

30. When adults tell you that it is okay that you have no idea what you want to do with your life yet. (regardless of what parents or your advisor may say.)

31. Pizza.

32. Finding out you weren't the only one who did poorly on the exam.

33. Deciding not to buy the textbook, and never needing it.

34. Finding the perfect gif to express how you're feeling. (Michael Scott just get it.)

35. Weekends at home because...

36. Pets.

37. Mom's home cooked pie and Dad's steak dinners,

38. Spring Break.

39. Road trips.

40. When it finally starts to cool down outside so you can show up to class dry instead of dripping in sweat.

Cover Image Credit: Abigail Wideman

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Your Post-Graduation Plans May Not Be What You've Always Expected, But That's Life

We're all on different paths, don't be afraid to be selfish when it comes to your future.


Entering our first year of college, I'm sure we all had a vision of what our lives might look like the months following graduation. As freshmen, the year 2019 seemed so far away, and at times it felt like it might never come. But nevertheless, we got through that impossible writing intensive course that we thought we'd never pass and killed that exam that we pulled a few all-nighters studying for.

Four falls and four springs later, we pick up our caps and gowns and count down the final days. Some of us have jobs lined up a few weeks after graduation, some plan to attend grad school, while others are still applying to jobs and struggling to figure out what exactly they want. Graduation is the beginning of the rest of your life. It's one of the few times we're allowed to be selfish with our actions. Our futures are finally in our own hands.

As a freshman and even a sophomore, I saw myself "going with the flow," graduating, getting a job, getting married, having kids, etc. That's what you're supposed to do, right? There is no other option, right?

After going abroad my junior year, I realized that there's so much more out there. There are endless possibilities in this world and you can live your life virtually any way you want to. Nothing is written in stone, you don't have to do anything.

So as the last weeks of my semester fly by, I am beginning to carve out my path. I still don't really know where I'm going, but nobody does. I'm applying to different jobs and hoping to find something I'll enjoy. I'm looking to start working in September, living on my own and being independent.

My boyfriend and I are in the stages of planning a trip around Asia for the month of July. Once we accept jobs, we aren't likely to have this kind of flexibility and time off again for a while. We will be volunteering at a children's center in Vietnam and then we'll see where the wind takes us from there.

Most adults, when you ask them, still don't know what they want to do with their lives. Many people who have jobs currently, either aren't satisfied with what they're doing or they may have other plans for where the rest of their lives may take them. Graduating is a stressful thing because you think you have to have it all figured out, but you don't, no one ever does and that's OK.

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