Realizing I'm Not the Same Person I was When I Started College

Up until recently, I believed that I hadn’t changed very much over the last 2 years. I have the same roommate I had freshman year, the same job, I am involved with the same activities, I hangout with the same friends, and I am enrolled in the same majors. I look fairly similar to when I started college. I have not had a life altering event like the loss of a loved one or a major falling out with a friend occur over the last two years. In short, there has been no drastic change in my life, which led me to assume that I too had not changed. However,  over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that’s not true.

 

While I may have many of the friends I made freshman year, my relationship with them has shifted, changed, grown, and deepened. I’m closer to them now than I was when I started college and they know me better. We’ve gotten in arguments, drifted apart, grown back together, supported each other unconditionally and we’re stronger for it. I’m grateful for that change and grateful for the opportunity to change together.

Above: Freshmen year (photos courtesy of author)

 

My core friend group is similar but not exactly the same as it was freshmen year. New people have come into my life that have showed me so much love,patience, and support (I’m looking at you Team LC). They’ve helped me grow in my faith and broadened my worldview. They’ve kept me sane during some very late nights in the library and have constantly taught me that people are more important than school — an invaluable lesson that, unfortunately, not everyone learns.

Above from left to right: Gil, me, Tara, Matt (Photo courtesy of author)

 

The people in my life have taught me so much, but the places I’ve been to have also shaped me. Two years ago, the only time I had been out of the country was when I was ten and we went to Canada. Since then I’ve been to three countries, lived extensively in one of them, and am about to study abroad in Spain. I’ve developed a love for travel and an openness to other cultures. Traveling has taught me the importance of flexibility and after living in Peru for two months, I’ve realized I need to keep calm about things I have no control over.

 

Photos above from top to bottom: hiking High Island in Ireland, Toledo, Spain, and wearing traditional clothes for a Peruvian celebration (photos courtesy of author)

 

The experiences I’ve had, the old friends I’ve kept, the new friends I’ve made, the classes I’ve taken, and all the little moments I thought had not changed me, have done so drastically. I’m a much more calm, grounded person now than I was two years ago. I’ve learned so much about myself and the world and what I value and will fight for. I refuse to waste energy on things that I cannot change and I try my best to let things go, which are definitely not characteristics I had when I entered Notre Dame.

 

So no, I’m not the same person I was 2 years ago. But that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that who I was two years ago was somehow less or worse than who I am now; it just means that I’ve had new experiences that have affected me. It’s okay to change as long as the person you’ve become is someone you’re proud of, and if the person you’ve become is not someone you’re proud of, you can change. That’s the beauty of it: growth is a lifelong process. I, for one, hope I never stop growing because I’m beyond excited to see who I continue to become.