Why I’m Happy I Went to Notre Dame (Despite my Mountains of Debt)


Literally, the cost of my college education is equivalent to the small mountain of student debt I will be paying back forever. Even despite this astronomical cost (that I am now just beginning to fully grasp) the value and benefits of my time at Notre Dame far exceed the monetary cost of attendance. (bold statement right?)

There is something about a collection of young, curious, intelligent, inquisitive minds that is priceless. This environment provides endless opportunities for new ideas to be explored. Both academic and otherwise: from carefully analyzed theories on who the starting QB would be, to intense debates on social justice, and conversations regarding the physics of time travel. Participation in this kind of community provides an educational experience that goes far beyond simple text book and classroom learning.

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Live Life Forward

Some of the most important people in my life have been the people who tell me things I absolutely don’t want to hear. People who illuminate my faults and point out my failures, who let me know when I am wrong and how to be better. (*insert special thanks to my parents here*)

This is never easy to hear, but these conversations aren’t meant to be hurtful or mean. In fact, it might be that the only thing more difficult than listening to someone else point out your faults is pointing out the faults of another. Pointing out someone’s faults is a risk.

Having your flaws pointed out, especially in an honest and forthcoming way is disarming, and unsettling. Too often our pride prevents us from truly listening and taking to heart the feedback we receive. One of my favorite quotes, that I forget all too often is from Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.

“When you’re screwing up and no body’s saying anything to you anymore that means they gave up on you […] your critics are the ones that are showing you they still love you and care”

I’ve been lucky to have people throughout my life who have given me this kind of critique. I have had friends and mentors who have been there to remind me that I AM going to be OK, that my crisis isn’t that big of a deal, to think of someone outside myself, and that talking through a movie is extraordinarily annoying.

My most recent feedback was actually from one of my new co-workers. After being thrown into new jobs and being notified of a business trip 700 miles away within the first 48 hours we bonded (like it or not). Walking back from dinner one night, she pointed out that it seems that I spend too much time talking about the past. My home, my school, my friends from other places. And while having a history is great and important, living entirely in the past is immature and quite frankly annoying. She instructed me to live life forward.

Being overwhelmed, a little homesick, intimidated, and scared, this was the last thing in the world I wanted to hear. But after thinking about it, she was right. Its hard to make friends in the present if all you talk about is your past.

There is nothing wrong with sharing your history with people, but its important to live life forward. Focus on the present. Focus on the future, on your goals and dreams and adventures to come. Don’t forget where you’ve been but its hard to move forward if you’re always looking back.

Take Two

Surprise. College was the trial run. Take Two. Start Over. Back to square one.

College was the first time that I was able to construct a life for myself. I learned how to navigate a new environment, built a network of friends, mentors, supporters, and colleagues who became my family. I lived in a world of my own making for the first time ever. I was responsible for getting out of bed (or not). Feeding myself (or not). My days, while guided by those around me, were shaped by my own decisions. But right when I started to get comfortable in this little life of my own making, real life reared its big, ugly, speckled, scaly head.

The life that I constructed with my friends hurtled toward total annihilation (too dramatic?) when in mid May we were all flung to different corners of the world (or the USA) on unique paths.

**This is where it gets cliched.**
**I know these aren’t ground breaking observations but stick with me.**

Never again will we all be living within the same square mile (let alone the same building). Never again will we have a shared community. Never again will we all find the same yaks funny.

Instead, we are each moving in our own directions. Moving to new places and starting new lives with new people. Again.

In some ways the second time around is easier. We’ve already awkwardly gotten lost, asked stupid questions, made friends, and polite frienemies once. Some of the things that were scary the first time around aren’t so bad now. We’ve learned that we can (in fact) feed our selves, and that we can (usually) get out of bed. We’ve learned that we will make mistakes, but we’ve also learned how to deal with consequences.

What hasn’t gotten easier has maybe even gotten harder. When I left high school, I missed my best friends and my family. They were my people. The ones I laughed with, cried with, and told (almost) everything to. Despite making lots of friends early in my freshman year, it took months to start to find new people. In fact, I didn’t settle into friendships with some of my people until late in my college career. But these people, my people, they were not only my friends, they we’re my advisors, roommates, comedians, partners in crime for late night milkshake runs. They are my family.

Moving to a new city is exciting. I get to explore, figure out public transportation, find new favorite bars, and meet dozens and dozens of new people. But its also lonely. I don’t have my people. I know that I will eventually find new people. But for now I miss late nights with one (or 3) too many glasses of wine. I miss pretending to do homework. I miss spontaneous edamame trips. I miss post-bar feminist rants (that we were too hungover to do anything about the next day). I miss glomping. I miss gossiping and ranting and laughing and crying and watching bad tv and sometimes just doing nothing at all.

So. To my people. I miss you. Know that you will always be my people. But I can’t wait until I find someone else who fully embraces and loves all my quirks. And is willing to be seen with me in public in a hot pink princess dress.IMG_30671-1

And to my future people: I can’t wait to find you so we can be weirdos together.