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Bringing out the best of me

Dee Tian | Sunday, March 4, 2012

I turned 22 this weekend and unfortunately it was only slightly less the hot mess that was my 21st birthday.

However, as I look back on this weekend, the best times didn’t involve vodka or tequila. The best times were when I came home from class to find that my roommates had decorated the house and my room with streamers and balloons.

It was when I received gifts of huge collages containing photos from the past year. It was when I went out to dinner for hibachi with 15 of my closest friends. It was when my best guy friends performed a song they wrote for me like they do every year. These were the moments that I was happiest. And even more important than feeling happy, I felt fulfilled.

Similarly, as I look back at my four years at Notre Dame, my most fulfilling memories don’t involve partying or drinking. They involve the kindness and generosity my friends and family have extended to me and the times when I was able to give to others without expecting anything in return.

I believe we feel the most fulfilled and joyful when either we are being our best selves, or those around us are being their best selves. So, I often wonder, what brings out the best in me? Is it when I’m wasted singing “Call Me, Maybe” at Finny’s? Is it when I’m spending late nights in the library doing Formal Logic homework?

No. What brings out the best in me is when I am feeling and expressing God’s love. I can do this by listening to friends when they just need to vent, or discussing with others how God’s been present in our lives, or by performing small acts of random kindness for strangers. In the past, during breaks, I would go to clubs or bars with my friends from home. However, with working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and doing a rigorous workout regime named Insanity (Sean T baby), I literally had no energy for anything else.

So, I sat on the couch with my little brother and played Sonic and Mario London Olympics on the Wii every night. Lame, you might think. But I absolutely loved it. Each break, I vow to spend more time with my family, yet I get so caught up in the excitement of reuniting with my friends, I rarely follow through.

Yet, this break, I hung out with my 12-year-old brother more than I hung out with any of my friends combined. I actually looked forward to our couch time together. Our relationship improved tremendously and I feel closer to him than I ever have in the past. I was being my best self by not getting angry when he beat me at every other Wii game (which may not seem like a big deal, but I am potentially the sorest loser in the entire world). These are the times I cherish. It was much more fulfilling finding that connection with my brother than in going out and getting wasted every other night.

These past few weekends, I have found myself thinking, “What’s the point?” It’s not that I have stopped enjoying drinking or partying, but sometimes, the act seems shallow.

I remember a ResLife employee once asked me the same thing. I looked at her like she had five heads. The point? Well, to have fun, of course. Yet recently I’ve been craving something more than that. Something deeper, more fulfilling.

Of course, I still love playing drinking games, tailgating and going to bars, but I’m finally beginning to understand that these activities are not what define college.

The friendships I’ve made, the challenges I’ve overcome, and most importantly, the faith I’ve rediscovered and strengthened is what has defined my college experience. What has defined yours?

Dee Tian is a senior marketing major with minors in philosophy and

anthropology. She can be reached at ytian1@nd.edu

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