Letters from the Editors | Eudaimonia

Dear reader,

Last September, wandering around campus during NSO, I stumbled upon a display board christened with bright block letters: “The Wishing Wall.” A few frosh were taking part, writing their hopes and dreams for the future on colorful sticky notes.

Getting closer, I got a look at the wishes on the wall.

            “A startup”

                                                           “A successful career”

                                                                                                   “A good job”


Hopes of corporate and professional success took up more than half of the space. 

Not all, of course — others had wished for health or for friendship. A few notes wished for love. What struck me most was the mundanity of it all: People’s dreams and aspirations bundled up into paper on a wall. 

For many of us, college is an exercise in pathfinding. Here, we set ourselves on bearings that will shape the rest of our lives. The campus is our space to linger in that in-between period just after we declare our independence from our teenage lifestyles, and just before we’re expected to live as adults in the workforce. Yet, so often, that process is a silent, unexamined one. Wrapped up in our aspirations are our judgments about what a good life looks like. 

This magazine is an attempt to describe the season of waiting, hoping, and dreaming we find ourselves in, and to examine our individualized perceptions of Eudaimonia. 

Eudaimonia is an old Greek word, and it sounds appropriately fanciful for an artsy magazine theme. Aristotle described the concept as the highest human good: the only thing that is desirable as an end in itself. But, as the stories in this magazine explore, this definition is unique to each person who encounters it.

Grace Carroll ’24 examines the arguments embedded in this campus’s architecture, history and culture, and asks us to pay attention to what we give up in the name of ambition. Callia Peterson ’26 talks to Stanford’s Stegner fellows, people who took a massive right turn in their life to dedicate themselves to writing for two years, and examines what that means to them. Elizabeth Westermann ’26 reviews Stanford classes, “The Good Life” and “The Good Death,” examining the rarity of similar classes and niche, newly formed communities. YuQing Jiang ’25 implores Stanford students to consider the hidden rewards in unconventional life paths. Erin Ye ’26 explores the value of Stanford students taking time away from the University for their careers or families. Finally, Charlotte Burks ‘27 looks out the windows of Green Library as she contemplates the perspective on life people-watching can bring.

We hope the stories in this volume give you some insight into the Wishing Wall notes of our fellow classmates — and help you scribble a note of your own.

Thanks for reading,

Seamus Allen ’25

Dear reader,

In thinking about our theme for this issue, Seamus and I were circling around the idea of a “good life.” What does this mean for our campus culture?

I, too, have spent countless hours wondering if I should spend more time networking on LinkedIn, what I’ll do with my English degree, etc. But I’ve realized that my most joyous days were when I poured myself into my favorite Elizabeth Gaskell novel or sat in office hours talking animatedly with my English professors. There’s a deeper, higher satisfaction in knowing that I am pursuing something to better myself, and hopefully, a purpose that will spill over to my career and life: eudaimonia.

Eudaimonia is at the core of a “good life”: not just a fleeting moment of glee, but a kind of lingering serenity that trails behind, in the air, in your heart, in your spirit. As Aristotle wisely once said, this state is not just that spurt of in-the-moment pleasure, but one that comes through in the aspirations for personal and moral growth.

This magazine strives to unearth pockets of eudaimonia on our campus with stories about students on leaves of absences, to creative writing fellows, to classes contemplating life and death, and more. Writers, photographers, graphic designers, editors, and, most importantly, students have poured out so much of their thoughtfulness and heart into crafting this issue. Our hope is that you’ll indulge in this edition with an eager and curious eye.

The next academic year might yet be another run towards that diploma, or a steady walk before leaping into the gnashing workforce (or perhaps a constant back-and-forth between the two?). But I especially hope that these stories and voices will stick with you — just enough for you to realize that there is delight to be found in the uncertainty, wherever your Stanford path takes you.


Grace Lee ‘26

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