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I’ve never really enjoyed reading inspirational quotes because I often find them cliché. Do people even really feel the immediate effects of being calm after looking at an image of text in script writing against a pastel covered background, saying, “It’ll all be okay,” and, “Just breathe”? Despite my dislike for the abundance of inspirational quotes, especially the ones that exist over social media, there is one phrase in particular that stands out to me and does not feel corny. Maybe it’s because I didn’t come across it while scrolling through Instagram.

“This too shall pass.”

I first heard this phrase yelled to me by my coach in the confines of my high school rowing boathouse. At the time, it felt as if she was yelling so as to get me through the arduous workout, but looking back, I’ve realized it was just her providing words of encouragement with a rather loud volume and intense tone of voice. I was sitting on the ergometer (“erg” machine), 30 minutes into a workout with another excruciating 25 to go. If you’ve ever sat on an erg, you may be well acquainted with the amount of pain firing out of your body, especially your legs, during a typical workout. I was a competitive rower all throughout high school, and over the course of four strenuous, yet very rewarding years, I became all too familiar with having to (literally) push through pain. Mental pain, physical pain, you name it.

Rowing is an incredibly physically challenging sport, which makes it easier to agonize during rough workouts. Too often did the lactic acid erupting from my body send screaming signals to my brain, telling me to just get OFF the machine and give up. However, giving up was simply not an option (especially not for rowers). The erg machine mimics rowing on the water, so if you get off the erg during a workout, it’s as if you essentially stop rowing during a race. If you stop applying pressure, at the very least, it screws up the course for the coxswain and slows down the shell speed, but if you just stop rowing completely, the boat comes to a halt. No rower wants the boat to stop.

“This too shall pass” helped refocus me during challenging workouts and reminded me:

  • 1: The workout was temporary.
  • 2: This feeling will eventually fade, and the pain experienced in that moment only served to make me stronger.

As I’ve graduated high school and have now been in college for the past year and a half, I’ve noticed how this phrase has transcended into my personal and academic life. Although I do not row competitively any longer, “this too shall pass” has reminded me that any kinds of stresses, not just the physical gut-wrenching lactic-acid inducing ones, are temporary, and with the help of a more positive mindset and intentional approach, can remain that way. Moving on from hardship is much easier without dwelling and ruminating in negative emotions. As a former rower, I’ve learned that hardship exists in multiple forms beyond athletics, especially in a fast-paced and high-strung atmosphere that is bred on most college campuses. “This too shall pass” has helped me find a balance and guided me with skills on how to best prioritize my time for my own mental and physical health. What’s even more beautiful about this quote is how it has taught me, and continuously teaches me, to live in the present, because it has reminded me that every moment is fleeting. Staying aware and mindful in the present moment is all you can really do, because it’s all we really have.

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis