This Too Shall Pass: Teagan Staudenmeier’s Senior Column

“I forgot to say the best part of my day… Onward State tweeted, ‘Only two more weeks until break’ WITH ALL THREE OF MY PICTURES ATTACHED! This is extremely exciting because it is the first time my work has been featured on its own…” — found in an old journal, written February 27, 2020. 

I joined OS in the spring semester of my freshman year, and the thought of simply having a social photo posted for this blog was enough to make me text my whole family and beam with pride. Little did 19-year-old me know, I would shoot Penn State football, cover intense protests, go viral with my own recollection of COVID-19 isolation, and so much more.

The point is, things change. They grow in beautiful ways. I don’t recognize the girl who found herself swinging her feet off the side of her lifted dorm bed in East Halls, thinking, “What’s next?” as my parents drove away. 

I miss her sometimes. Life threw everything it had at me in the four years I’ve been here. I grew up, and she faded away. It’s bittersweet.

The phrase “this too shall pass” got me through so much. 

In my freshman year, I said goodbye to my grandfather over the phone while standing in the stairwell of Stone Hall. My sobs echoed down the empty stairs and the regret of being away made it so hard. 

This too shall pass.

Then, a worldwide pandemic hit, and I somehow had to figure out what college would look like without in-person classes and in-person friendships. My mental health plummeted. 

This too shall pass. 

Things got better. I fell in love, and I had friends who helped light my creative fire. Some of those friendships I no longer have, but it’s OK because we’re all growing, and it’s OK to grow away from each other. 

Then, spring break of my junior year hit. I went home and my grandma who lived with me for over a decade, who helped shape who I am, passed away extremely unexpectedly. It was like the ground fell out from under me. How was I meant to go back and submit another canvas assignment as if nothing happened? 

This too shall pass. 

During my senior year, I felt the puzzle pieces start to click. Genuine friendships entered my life. I worked harder, and I created more. My storytelling improved, and opportunities presented themselves. 

Then came my 22nd birthday. Those who know me know how very much my dogs mean to me. I lost Bjuki, the second oldest, the day before I turned 22. I couldn’t make it home in time. The only symptom of what killed her was “sudden death.” My parents didn’t call to sing to me because Bjuki would always howl along as soon as she heard the first few notes of Happy Birthday. I felt hollow. 

This too shall pass. 

Despite all of this, and the battles I can’t bring myself to share, I overcame. The moments of true struggle and devastation passed. 

I’m graduating in the top 12% of my class, I won an SPJ award my junior year, I went to Estonia and covered the story of my student career, I made friendships that will last a lifetime, and I found true, genuine joy at Penn State. 

There was so much beauty to be found even in the hardship: the nights spent laughing, walking after dark on campus, evenings spent covering sports I’d never dreamed of having access to, being thrown in the air during a touchdown, the exhilaration of being on the floor at THON, and the sound of the birds chirping on the first warm day of spring. 

Unfortunately, this too shall pass. 

Penn State has brought me so much love and happiness. I feel nothing but gratitude for my home for the last four years. Speaking of gratitude, there are some people I would like to thank for their place in my journey. 

To my Dad: You’re the one who first gave me the tool of “This too shall pass.” One of the many nuggets of wisdom you have shared with me. Your humor, dedication, and never-ending knowledge have been a true gift to me while in college. Thank you. 

To my Mom: While we may cry during Super Bowl commercials, it is the empathy you’ve given me that has made me the storyteller I’m proud to be. You have supported me endlessly, and I am so grateful. Thank you. 

To Tyler: You, in my world, are one of the greatest gifts Penn State has given me. Thank you for being my support system and my best friend. I couldn’t have achieved as much without you by my side. 

To Curt Chandler: You were the first person to ever plant the seed of “photojournalism” when I was just a high school senior visiting the communications college. You lit a spark that became my life’s passion. Rest in peace, and thank you. 

To Mila Sanina and John Pendygraft: I am so happy you both joined Bellisario College in my senior year. You both pushed me to be my best. You also made me see the true value of my work. I could go on forever in gratitude, but I will simply say, thank you!

To Madi, Kate, and Lydia: Our friendship has lasted and grown even as we are apart at different colleges. You three and your constant support, humor, and love have been incredible blessings. Thank you!

Larkin, Alysa, and Jillian: Onward State plopped you beautiful souls into my life, and I am truly better for it. It is amazing to look up to the incredible talents of your friends without ever feeling the sting of comparison. I am so grateful for you SAJ girls. Thank you!

Finally, thank you Onward State. This blog has pushed me to be the very best journalist I can be and has taught me so much that I didn’t gain in the classroom. The community has been crucial these last four years. While I wish I could shoot for OS forever, this too shall pass. 

In parting, to college students: the hardships, the finals, and the deadlines will pass. But so will the nights spent on porches, the proximity to friends, and the things you truly only have at Penn State. 

So, soak it all in because this too shall pass. 

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About the Author

Teagan Staudenmeier

Teagan is a senior majoring in photojournalism and is one of Onward State's photographers. She is from Wilkes-Barre, PA, but is a Canadian at heart. On campus, she is involved in Photo Club and is an Aurora outdoor orientation leader. For more fun content, follow her on Twitter: @Teag_42.

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