The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Letting the past lead me

Letting+the+past+lead+me
Kathryn Kovalenko

I sat in the World of Coca-Cola museum theater in Atlanta, feeling a salty tear slide out from underneath my glasses as smartphone home videos played out on the wide LED screen in the form of a PR short film.

Man, I thought, Coca-Cola is the GOAT at advertising. They got me. 

As I watched these stories of people sharing a Coke over a surprise birthday party, pregnancy announcement and proposal on a hot air balloon, I cried over how life felt so big and beautiful and wondered where my place was when I felt like such a mess.

Where do I fit into all of this? Where have the last almost-22 years of my life been leading me?

My high-strung emotions have recently felt like they’re being tuned on the world’s smallest violin — intensifying with every tightness in my chest, every rub of my sleep-deprived eyes and every tissue used to blow my runny nose. 

At night, I text my senior friends, facing similar challenges of seeking out hope in an unknown future. Where will we live? Or work? How much money will we make? When can we FaceTime next?

The last four years at Bethel have been, hypothetically, preparing me to walk across the stage in Benson Great Hall May 25, but I don’t feel any more secure about the future than I did the first day of freshman year. I will no longer be a student for the first time since I was 5, and I don’t know if I know how to live without my friends living right downstairs and late night intramurals and watered-down iced coffees from Royal Grounds and fewer than six hours of sleep a night.

I don’t know if I can be an adult, but I know that I need to use these experiences to propel me forward, like the many times I’ve slipped on the ice in intramural broomball games — face first.

The seniors’ legacy will become legend, passed on by the underclassmen on The Clarion staff and the students we TA and my residents as a freshman RA. Remembering the stories of those who came first — whether that’s great jazz musicians, past professors, farmers, alumni athletes or the faith of our parents and grandparents — allows us to move forward. 

We now recognize how we want to continue to change what they left behind.

I’m a competitive person with big dreams, but it’s intimidating to face job applications filled with students from bigger universities with longer résumé experiences. I just need to put on my noise-canceling headphones and pick the best walk-up song to hype me up (probably “No Hands” by Waka Flocka) while I write some bomb cover letters. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you. Signing every letter with “Sincerely, Anna Pearson” while wishing I could sign off with “Living laughing and loving, your new favorite personality hire.” 

In the meantime, I’ll be finding a replacement for the English and journalism lounge near whatever job I get in the Twin Cities, a new favorite go-to coffee order and a new signature table with an outlet underneath.

When I walk across the stage at graduation, of course my peers and I will be celebrating our accomplishments from the last four years, but I’ll also be staring past the blinding stage lights at the sea of expectant faces full of accomplished people — young and old. 

I’ll be expectant, too, of where life will take me. Maybe someday I’ll be in a home video on a Coca-Cola ad, sharing a Coke with loved ones over a great achievement. Maybe my story will someday make someone else shed a tear.

With these stories, we celebrate the past and look forward to the future with a hint of optimism in our hearts for our beloved communities and some camera rolls full of memories to continue propelling us forward.

Stories in this issue

The next chapter

More than the wins

Six thousand miles to snow

Excited to lead

Walk-up song roulette

Learning to value creativity

Gen-Z: The future of the church

Billy Joel lied to me

The language of swing

Q&A with artist M. Gasby Brown

Bethel’s not-so-secret student spaces

Embracing the challenge

Back in the day

 How to live with a kindergarten teacher

An a-maize-ing childhood

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About the Contributors
Anna Pearson, Managing Editor
Anna Pearson, 21, is a senior journalism and psychology double major. She stays busy as a freshman RA and a high school dance team coach, but in her free time can be found watching the worst reality TV shows imaginable, making magazine collages and practicing handwriting cool fonts.  [email protected] | 763-999-1899
Kathryn Kovalenko, Photo Editor
Kathryn Kovalenko, 19, is a sophomore media production and journalism major. She enjoys making hyper-specific Spotify playlists, treasure hunting at Goodwill and spending all her money on concert tickets. If you want hundreds of candid photos taken of you, ask her to hang out.  [email protected]  | 605.321.6455
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