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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

The places we will go

Dr. Seuss once said, “You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted, but mostly they're darked.”  Seuss, surprisingly enough, wasn’t referring to the netherworld of South Bend. Rather, he was speaking to the paths we will find and “The Places You Will Go.” His work and those words speak to all of us, whether a freshman, a junior or a teacher, in portending that we truly have little clue as to what the next year will bring. There will be highs, lows, memories and regrets in the coming weeks, months and, if you’re lucky enough to not be graduating come May, years. You will be challenged.

Your time here may not always be easy.

You will fail. You may fail greatly, potentially catastrophically. But you will get back up.

You may struggle socially. You will see some friends grow closer and watch others fade away.

You may struggle with the distance from home, siblings or, yes, even parents.

You will likely struggle more academically than ever before. When I signed up for Chinese freshman year, I didn’t envision getting a 73 on the first test I took in college. But I studied more and longer than I ever did before. And so the next test came. And with it, a big shiny number in the top right corner.

It said 57.

Life is never quite as expected. You will fall and you will fail. But for every struggle you face, there are others who face the same. For every moment the obstacle seems insurmountable, know there are people here who will help you conquer it. You will lean on friends and on strangers, on adults and on students, and maybe even on some sappy playlist you made one night. We’re not judging.

You will learn to embrace these struggles because with them come opportunities and memories the likes of which cannot be replicated elsewhere.

You’ll have conversations with professors that could change your thinking, your major, your direction or at least your failing grade. You’ll have conversations in the dorm that form friendships that will endure through tragedy and triumph. You’ll have a conversation with your hall staff over events you may not remember, but they claim occurred. You may have conversations over broken hearts and sudden losses.

You’ll have a 3 a.m. conversation at Taco Bell.  Somewhere between declaring that you “can’t even” and that you are “so over it,” you and whoever else is occupying the booth will announce yourselves as “besties.”

You’ll travel far and wide from the Andes to the Alps, across continents and conflicts.

You’ll lose some things. You’ll lose a friend or two, your keys or your wallet. You’ll lose your 4.0.  You may well lose your dignity somewhere between Main Circle and Feve.

You’ll have the chance to, as Dr. Seuss’ contemporary equal Asher Roth once said, “do something crazy.” Get in a little trouble. Not too much, but a little. As a RA, I’m pretty sure this is where I’m supposed to say do so without violating du Lac. Do your best.

Make sure you educate your mind, but don’t forget to nourish your soul. My high school yearbook tells me that my ambition as of 2011 was to “live with no regrets.” While I haven’t managed to do so entirely, I can tell you that far more of the regrets I have revolve around things I didn’t do rather than things that I did. So once in awhile, ditch the problem set for a night out. Try something new. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself.  Ask out that girl or guy who you have supposedly no business talking to. Meet new people. Take a class for the sake of it. Find out where the heck Carroll is.

Live so that when this year ends, and when your time at Notre Dame comes to a close, you depart knowing you accomplished that which you wanted to, that you experienced what you sought and that you spent the time you had making incredible memories with incredible people

Ready or not, another year at Notre Dame is upon us. So hop aboard, enjoy the ride and discover together the places we will go.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.