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Thoughts On Perseverance

By Sarah Lyon

This is the first year American University is participating in RE-volv’s Solar Ambassadors program, and, like anything new, there have been considerable growing pains. While I won’t try to enumerate all the roadblocks we’ve run into thus far, I am writing this blog post on the importance of perseverance, which, interestingly enough, can be detailed using the solar industry as a metaphorical vessel.

While I can’t remember the first time I heard the term “solar coaster”, I can remember turning to a close friend, who is also on AU’s Solar Ambassador team, and saying “We’re on a solar coaster that only goes up”. Despite the fact that 90% of this quote was stolen from John Green, the implications of it are very telling. As a student, as a Solar Ambassador, you’re definitely made aware that things are not perfect, that they aren’t going to run as smoothly as you might hope.

Logically, I knew that I was going to be told “no” a fair amount, but I still wasn’t prepared for the energy and fortitude required to pick oneself up and continue to move forward after a big setback. And while I’m acutely aware of how cliched I sound, I still feel like no one can effectively communicate how demoralizing it is when something you’ve put considerably time, effort, and hope into falls through. It would be so easy to become apathetic and guarded in the face of rejection, nothing can hurt you if don’t care, but that type of thinking is deeply troubling. If you’ll allow me to indulge in another cliche, the light (solar, get it?) and then end of the tunnel is worth it, and caring is often the most efficient way to achieve an end goal.

The solar industry has not had the smoothest of courses, thus the need for terms like “solar coaster”. There are policy setbacks, and utility companies fighting the death spiral, and for some reason renewable energy has becoming bizarrely politicized. But in the end, converting to solar energy is logical, it’s an economically sound decision, and it’s compassionate not only towards the environment but towards future generations.

In it’s own way, converting to solar energy is the antithesis of apathy, and the projects that RE-volv’s Solar Ambassador teams are currently working on embody the idea that every effort and decision made has impact. Yes, it’s difficult to see past the numerous required applications, the extensive email chains and the unreturned voicemails, but what’s a moment of frustration or inconvenience when the end goal is something so wonderful?

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