The 2018 Senior Perspectives is the 13th in a series of annual collections. Senior captains and representatives of teams at Harvard have been invited to contribute viewpoints based on personal experience from both their senior seasons and full varsity careers at Harvard.
Grant Solomon, Men's Tennis
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Concentration: Romance Languages & Literatures: Latin America
House Affiliation: Lowell
Before I reflect on my time with the Men’s Tennis program at Harvard, I would like to indulge in expressing profound gratitude to Dave and Andrew for their incredible generosity, mentorship, and the lifelong friendships we have gained over the past several years. Shepherding me through the both the trials and tribulations, on and off the court, certainly demonstrates their incredible care to not only my success on the court but my aspirations and growth as an individual, and, for that among many other things, I am incredibly indebted to each of them. I would also love to thank the ‘Friends of Harvard Tennis,’ Craig, Lorenzo, Frazier, and the countless others who have made not only my Harvard tennis experience but my Harvard experience so special. Lastly, I want to express my most sincere love for my own family and for the brothers I have made on this team. Growing up an only child, ya’ll gave me a new family and, for the sake of my protruding, deteriorating, curled up turtle shell of a back while writing this reflection, I won’t indulge in recounting the thousands (OK, maybe that’s high-balling it) of memories we’ve made.
After countless nights of restless sleep, I’ve decided that the most accurate way to communicate my reflection should be in the form of a list, so, if you don’t mind, here are my top three.
1. Trust the Process
Before the Super Bowl a year ago, another big lead was blown...the 2016 NBA Playoffs. The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead. Don’t sleep on it! But actually, often times we have the tendency to focus on Patriots’ heroics (and don’t get me wrong, it was spectacular), or “the block” by LeBron (the GOAT) in Game 7. But why did the teams blow those leads? Were they thinking of hoisting the trophy already? We’ll really never know. But, I guess, in some roundabout way, this gets to my point. No matter what situation we are in, whether we are on the verge of an Ivy title or you just opened your transcript and see the fourth letter of the alphabet all over it (rattled, believe me), the approach is always the destination and we are always in process. We are never finished. Whether this process trusting comes in the form of eradicating world hunger or making sure you keep demonstrating resolve under trying circumstances, you should have someone have to tap your shoulder, and tell you that you just accomplished something great. The greatest marksmen always don’t aim at their target, they aim at the other side of it. Usain Bolt would run the 100m race and finally stop trotting in the far corner tunnel. Trust the process, live in it, and keep running.
2. Failure will happen, how you respond shows character
Each and everyone of us in life will fail at something, some of us more than others. However, it is not failure that makes any of us of lesser value nor is it failure that defines us in any way, shape or form. It is our response to adversity, hardship, and failure that demonstrates the kind of character we have. In Greek mythology, Daedalus is known for two things. The lesser known of the two is the fact that he built the wax, feathered, wings for his son, Icarus, to fly high into the sky. His son ended up dying after trying to use them. This, however, did not discourage Daedalus, known across the land for being one of the best engineers and innovators. Years later, he proceeded to build the famed labyrinth that the Minotaur could never escape from. Our failure will never define who we are, but an unwavering commitment to positively respond to that failure is something that truly sheds light on our character. We often have a tendency to focus on the problem, and whose problem it was or is. Perhaps, we should spend more energy focusing on the solution, how are we going to make the world a better place tomorrow in light of today.
3. Can does not equal want
While this one might seem pretty clear, maybe an analogy could make this a little more fruitful. For starters, I love coffee. When I first got to Harvard my love for coffee was relatively tame, but, over time, has drastically increased and now can proudly, unofficially consider myself a coffee roast connoisseur. At first, the whole Dunkin Donuts thing I thought was awesome, I loved how they would be on every corner, ask if you wanted any creamer or flavoring in it, add it in themselves and hand it back in, like, 30 seconds. Later that year I was telling a friend of mine all about how much I loved Dunkin Donuts and how they added so many flavorings to my coffee, did it for me, etc. Their response really struck a cord; they said “Well, that’s great if you like them adding cream to your coffee.” I thought about this for a while. I HATE HAVING CREAM IN MY COFFEE! Not only that but I couldn’t even add in the amount I really wanted if I did want any. Now I don’t even have cream in my coffee. I guess the greater point here is that certain things might be available at Harvard, and there are countless resources and opportunities to utilize and capitalize on, but you have to WANT to be involved. Having the option is incredible, but what will you do with it? Having something doesn’t necessarily mean wanting it. You have to make voluntary obligations to yourself to get the most out of your experience because in one minute to the next it’s gone. This could range from getting in extra 7am workouts to make sure your team does the best it can over the coming weekend to not indulging in too much coffee before you play so you don’t cramp - just have no regrets. Have your own goals, personal protocols, private council, whatever you would like to call it; no one will arrest you for not abiding by them but yourself (or the cop that comes to your door and barges in at 3am on a Tuesday for playing “Kill The Lights” too loudly while in your birthday suit, don’t ask). Someone once told me that an honest man’s pillow is his own peace of mind. No matter who you fall asleep with at night, we all sleep alone. Your thoughts are your personal jiminy crickets. There are not enough cops out there to barge in at 3am and police them, it’s up to you. Have no regrets. Seize opportunities that are there. Make the most of every moment, because every moment only happens once.