Haleigh Ehmsen | Tuesday, April 26, 2016
I hate writing Inside Columns. This is only the second one I have ever written and I am somewhat proud of the fact that I have been on staff the last four years, even serving as Saint Mary’s Editor, and could always avoid picking one up, pawning them off on my staff. But in a moment of weakness, or strength, I agreed to write one for the last regular paper of this academic year.
“The pain is not the story. What causes the pain and changes you is the story.” I heard these words spoken by writer Harrison Scott Key at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs earlier this month. I was reminded of my own reluctance to write about myself because of the pain caused by the loss of my dad nearly five years ago.
Part of why I hate writing Inside Columns is because I hate writing about myself. It’s not easy to remember the pain of losing my dad and often it overshadowed my thoughts as I battled depression. I tried to think of less heavy topics for an Inside Column each time I was presented with the opportunity to write one, but instead I found a willing writer. Choosing journalism and preferring to write about others was becoming a cop out for me to avoid my own narrative.
When I came to Saint Mary’s, I knew it would become my home and that I would learn a lot, but I could never have imagined how these things would come to be. I’ve come to understand what it means to educate the whole student and view writing as a way of healing. Blessed Basil Moreau, the founder of the Sisters of the Holy Cross said, “The mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.”
The holistic education offered at Saint Mary’s taught me: to look outward, you must first look inward. In my courses, my travel, my friendships, my writing, these past four years, my mind has been cultivated and my heart healed.
In this last year, I have come to understand the healing powers of writing about myself, the pain and the way it has changed me. I realize now that I don’t have to write about my dad’s death, but instead I can write about the power of my Saint Mary’s education and the way it transformed my life. Each course and experience taught me more about my passions and my place in the world. Ultimately, I couldn’t have continued to heal without my friends and roommates, my professors and mentors, my mom and my sister and perhaps without this Inside Column.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.