Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Finals-Are-Over Reflection

Finals are over! At least for me... Yay!

As the semester was closing and as I look ahead to my very exciting and adventurous future, I've been struck by a thought which keeps nagging at me: despite everything I am learning, despite my decent grades, despite my involvement in extracurricular activities, despite everything that as a good college student I'm supposed to do, I still lack sanity, my stress level is high, and I keep thinking how wonderful it would be just to have a break from it all, even now.

For some, college is a great experience, filled with lots of partying, late night paper writing, and hanging out with friends. For others, school is filled with lots of studying, constant homework, and the hectic schedule that comes with one's personal responsibility to change their world for the better. For both groups of people, there is often lacking any importance placed on one's development as a person whom God has called to live out a life of love. I myself am guilty of this. I fail to take time to reflect on my spirituality, and I fail to implement those things which I find necessary to increasing my faith, my spirituality, and my love for others.

In a success-driven environment such as Notre Dame, however, life seems to go by too fast. There is too much to do and so many obligations to fulfill and soon my school work is compromised and I am left feeling a little disappointed in myself. My less-than-perfect grades do not reflect my love of the subject. I know many people who become depressed simply because they are caught up in something that they cannot get out of, something that they do not find fulfilling or rewarding even on the most basic level. For those who are not called to be in academia, school serves as a sort of earthly purgatory to which we subject ourselves so that we might come out better on the other side. But the whole point of this rambling is, do we in fact come out better on the other side?

On one hand, the answer is always yes. Notre Dame's education is by far one of the best in the country, and, coupled by a great, thriving spirituality on campus, there is much one can learn in regards to both the sciences and our common faith. On the other hand, most likely the answer is no. With the emphasis placed on research at this university and a seemingly irreversible trend of applicants becoming smarter and busier (demonstrating more and more of this success-driven culture), no one is likely to slow down. As a NYT article comments, it would seem that we have become so success-driven that we care little for activism and voicing ourselves (e.g. If we refuse to stand up for ourselves, we will be crippled under the weight of caring for our parents through Social Security). With little time to relax, think, read, and CONVERSE--the foundations for any sort of meaningful opinion on anything--our generation would have become extremely easy to manipulate if it weren't for the fact that we're so lazy when it comes to actual issues going on in the big world.

Unfortunately for us here at Notre Dame, there doesn't seem to be any way to undo the damage done or reverse the trends which are so ingrained into our culture. Ideally--because as a member of Generation Q I'm full of ideals--we would reduce the emphasis on academic requirements and demand personal interviews. Notre Dame needs more than people with high ACTS and extracurriculars; Notre Dame needs young men and women with character, an active faith, and a desire to learn. This university needs to remember that good people aren't made just from books and tests, but, more importantly, from conversation and relationships. With perhaps less focus on academics and a more active focus on the entirety of the human person for all students who attend, Notre Dame will become the great University she was called to be, producing mature men and women who are truly ready to go out into the world and effect positive change.

In the mean time, we can insist on finding genuine leisure time to talk with others on the big issues and on discovering new ways to love and take life seriously. Life shouldn't have to be so hectic and so stressful, for "What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?" Instead, we should develop ourselves as human persons so that we might be a witness to others and ultimately, living a life of love, be called up into heaven with God.

God bless and have a Merry Christmas!

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