Brit Barnhouse: Being Anti-Zenosyne

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Brit Barnhouse, '18 Writing Studies, immersed herself fully into an ocean of words, becoming editor of Tahoma West and mentoring writers at the TLC.

If you had to define your UW Tacoma experience in one word, what would it be? UW Tacoma Senior Brit Barnhouse chose one she found on the internet.

Barnhouse came to UW Tacoma for a list of reasons, but ultimately, she wanted to overcome the anxiety she felt from watching life pass her by too quickly.

Barnhouse moved to Washington from Nebraska in 2010. She found work at State Farm, the same company for whom her parents had worked since Barnhouse was a child. She remembers being at her desk one day when her mind went completely blank. She sat starting at her computer screen for 20 minutes and couldn’t focus on anything. “Spending too much time worrying about what I could have and not having any more time left to do the stuff that really mattered in life put together made me quit my job” Barnhouse said. “I went full force into UW Tacoma because of that. I was like, ‘it's 110% into this or it's nothing.’ Feet first.”

Since coming to UW Tacoma, Barnhouse has worked as the editor-in-chief at both Tahoma West, UW Tacoma’s student-led literary journal, and In Layman’s Terms, an online literary journal Barnhouse created herself. She was also a writing consultant at the Teaching and Learning Center.

“I could say that I've always enjoyed writing, but that's not really true,” said Barnhouse. That changed when she took an introductory creative writing class with Abby Murray, a lecturer at UW Tacoma. “I'd already tried several years of doing things that I thought were practical, and that didn't work for me. I decided that I'd follow creative writing because it made me happy,” Barnhouse said.

Barnhouse was also selected to be a part of UW’s 2018 Husky 100. Applying to this year’s cohort was a struggle for Barnhouse, who was already balancing applying to graduate school with her hectic work and school schedule—but Barnhouse is slow to turn down a new opportunity. “I was like ‘Okay, one more thing,’ ” Barnhouse said.

Barnhouse is a writer, so encapsulating her UW Tacoma experience in just one word was difficult. But the word she chose was anti-zenosyne, a play on a term from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. “Zenosyne is the concept that as you get older, you have fewer novel experiences, and it feels like time is speeding up,’” Barnhouse said.  “Watching that video made me feel like if I don’t actually spend time on the things that are important and have new experiences and meet new people, I'm going to suddenly be retiring and wonder what I did with my life. Their word is zenosyne, but my experience has been anti-zenosyne.”

Return to 2018 Commencement: 1,850 Change Makers

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Written by: 
Danni Derrickson / June 6, 2018
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu