Seeking the light at the end of my tunnel

Jessica Barnett


“It’s because you can see the light at the end of the tunnel that it seems so dark and difficult right now.”

Those were the words my friend told me last week, when I was really struggling to make it through until I got my student loan refund. Unfortunately, I’ve seen it become applicable to more than just my finances as the semester continues.

I hate to see it, but I see a regression occurring in my peers. It’s as if the light at the end of our academic tunnel is visible, so the world has become this dark and difficult place. Rather than face it head-on, we’ve retreated.

We aren’t ready to graduate. We aren’t ready to be adults. We still want to curl up and talk about our dreams as if they are things that will happen years in the future. We want to push it off and stay where we are now.

Except we don’t have years left. Heck, some of us are years behind schedule already.

We no longer have the luxury of kicking back and assuming there are years ahead of us for achieving our dreams. We no longer have the luxury of saying where we are is good enough and there is no need for us to do better.

And we definitely don’t have the luxury of retreating back to where or what we were before and assuming that it will somehow take away the scary darkness between us and the light at the end of the tunnel.

Life is going to throw rocks in our path. Sometimes a cloud will block the light. We’re going to stumble and hit the ground, and we’re going to wonder what the point is.

The point is that no matter what lies ahead, it’s better than where we were.

“The universe only gives you this much trouble because it has something terrific waiting for you.”

Another friend told me that years ago, when I was first debating what to do next. I had spent months whining to her about my terrible relationship, but now that I was single, all I wanted to do was run back. I was OK with “terrible” because I was familiar with terrible. I wasn’t familiar with what life held now that I had left “terrible” behind.

I entered a tunnel that took me through some really rough times, from the roommate who threatened to destroy all of my things because I missed his phone call to the friend who threatened to kill a gas station attendant for looking at him the wrong way to the nights alone in my car because it was the only place I felt safe enough to call home.

It also took me to some really awesome places, like being best man in a Vegas wedding, getting my first tattoo, sitting in on a live television recording of my favorite show right before the host retired, learning new skills and careers that I never considered before and meeting some truly amazing people along the way.

I still stumble. I still fall. I still question the point of it all sometimes.

I repeat the wise words my friends have said to me. I wouldn’t have this much good in my life if it weren’t for all the bad before it, and the only reason I have to deal with this much bad now is so that I’m ready for all of the good waiting for me.

I remind myself that I have endured entirely too much not to reach the light at the end of my tunnel. I choose to move forward.