It’s the climb, not the summit

Virginia at summit

My first semester at Smith proved fruitful in both academic and life lessons – the most important being the need to embrace ambiguity. The 35 days (not that I was counting) we had over winter break allowed me to reflect upon one more, equally important, lesson: Sometimes, it’s the climb and not the summit that matters.

The marquee event of my winter break was a two-week honeymoon in South Africa, but the lesson that followed me home I learned standing at the 2,195 foot-peak of Lion’s Head mountain.

I should preface the rest of this with a few things: 1.) I am by no means a hiker; 2.) I don’t even qualify as outdoorsy; 3.) I nearly bolted when the guide informed my husband and me that there were “just a few chains and ladders” we would pull ourselves up with along the way.

Ninety minutes later, my group and I had reached the summit with time to spare before sunset. It was in that moment I realized that I was prouder of my ability to climb the mountain than I was excited about the sunset at the top. After making it back down that evening, I realized that I felt much the same way about my first semester at Smith.

Many of the courses did not come naturally to me. I am not an economist. I likely won’t ever lead a team of accountants. But I did successfully spend the last several months outside of my comfort zone. I did succeed as a poet among a cohort of quants. I came out of my first semester largely unscathed with a newfound appreciation of the resiliency I’d uncovered along the journey.

More often than not, it’s not the summit. It’s the climb.

Robert H. Smith School of Business
Map of Robert H. Smith School of Business
University of Maryland
Robert H. Smith School of Business
Van Munching Hall
College Park MD 20742