Senior Column: A wakeup call
In high school I always felt like the supporting actor in the major motion picture of my life. It seemed I was hired to merely show up each day and let everyone else write my story. I was cast as the shy, lonely kid, and my part consisted of a few fake laughs, a crooked smile and to avoid eye contact at all costs. It wasn’t until college gave me a wakeup call that I decided I needed to be the main character of my life story. I came to the realization that in order to grow and be truly happy, I needed to trust my gut instincts and make my own decisions. I had my own story to tell, and I had to be the one to pick up the pen and write it.
They say senior year sneaks up on you, and, take it from me, they weren’t kidding. That was no joke. The fact that in mere months I will be a college graduate still blows me away. But what is even more impressive is how much college has changed me as a person over the past four years. My biggest takeaway is that in order to make decisions about my life, I need to look within. The world has a funny way of making you feel pressured to live in terms of somebody else’s vision. But it is so true that only you know what dreams live inside of you, and only you can bring them to life.
So my wise words for all other seniors and underclassmen? If you constantly think about doing something, just go ahead and do it. Seriously. It may sound like a simple concept, but it took me until this year to realize the importance of breathing life into your own dreams. The very first instance I learned to ignore the voice in my head telling me not to do something because I will be seen as weird or awkward was the first time I truly saw the gifts I had to offer.
During my first semester of college I fell into my familiar high school ways of isolation and stone cold demeanor. The voices telling me to get out there and get involved were scared away by the louder voices telling me to play it safe, like I always had. I was scared. Suddenly I went from having all decisions made for me to being put in front of a blank canvas that only I could paint. I wanted to get involved but I didn’t know how. Filled with fear and anxiety, I walked to the Reach Out Center and signed up for a SEND service trip. Little did I know at the time, this one leap out of my comfort zone would open the door for so many life changing experiences. My SEND trip to Baltimore inspired me to realize the gifts buried deep inside of me and how fulfilling it could be to leave behind my fear and spread these gifts to the world.
With shaky hands and sweaty palms, I made the decision to put myself out there, and four years later I can reflect on this moment as the beginning of my life lived for me. That 18-year old that was so nervous to sign up for a SEND trip has now been on three trips and will be leading a trip to Washington DC this Spring. That same insecure person who couldn’t figure out what to eat for lunch found the courage to make the decision to spend a full semester abroad in Rome, Italy and immerse himself in a new culture. That boy that was terrified of using his voice and being outspoken applied and was accepted to be an Orientation Leader for first-year students. The person that was afraid to embrace his faith life now maintains multiple leadership roles within Campus Ministry. The frightened kid that wasn’t brave enough to figure out who he was had the guts to change his major Junior year from Business to Psychology and hasn’t looked back since. Senior year has been a chance for me to reflect on the mountains that can be moved with just a little bit of belief in oneself.
Although my academic work and class materials have molded me into who I am to some degree, it is truly the experiences outside of the classroom at Assumption that have provided me with the most room for growth. Senior year is bittersweet; it marks achievement and a reason to celebrate, but also comes with the overwhelming feeling of the end of something good. I have realized that as long as I go into life with a level head, an open heart, and my gut instincts, my happiness and growth will not end when I drive off of Assumption’s campus for the last time. I advise you all to write your own stories. Make them funny, make them dramatic, make them riveting. Write your story exactly as you want to write it. Just don’t let anyone create your character and story for you. Only with the pen in your hands can you turn life’s what-if’s into why-not’s.
Thomas Mandozzi, a senior, studies psychology and graphic design. He is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.