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Time to do what you love

Kate Barrett | Wednesday, August 29, 2012

So Activities Night has come and gone, and you likely have a stack of cards, brochures, flyers, email addresses and cell numbers (and, if you’re lucky, a free Campus Ministry t-shirt) sitting on your desk, waiting for you to decide what to do with it all. Well, put on the shirt. Then pull your little recycling bin up next to your desk, grab the pile and ask yourself, “What do I love?” Try to weed out the little loves, like dessert or the next episode of “Breaking Bad.” Look at the vast array of choices before you. What do you love enough to give it your time?

As this new academic year begins, as you sit there with your pile of perhaps overwhelming opportunities for travel, for service, for prayer, for a sport, club or activity you never dreamed you could try, spend a little time thinking about your time. How you spend it will go a long way toward determining who you will become, who you will hang around with, what you will choose to do and how generous you will be with your particular and unique talents and gifts. Each choice you make determines, by default, who you won’t hang around with, what you won’t choose to do and what people and places won’t receive the gifts of your talents and expertise.

The thing is, when you first get here, you’re sort of on your first date with Notre Dame and everything about it. As you get deeper into this new relationship, you’ll discover what you’ll fall in love with and what you can simply overlook, what you’ll just tolerate and even what you need to avoid. If you’ve been here for a year or two or three, is it time to re-evaluate? To look hard at what you love, at whether you really love who you’re becoming?

The further you head down this adulthood road, the more your time will become your most precious commodity. How will you spend it? Or as a professor of mine used to say to us, “Every day, every moment in time is a gift from God. What are you doing with that gift?”

Remember back when you were a freshman in high school and it seemed that your counselors and teachers just about immediately began to talk to you about college? It was almost as if they were trying to get you ready to leave as soon as you got there. Well, you did leave, and here you are. But here, too, life after Notre Dame seems to lurk in the back corners of every choice you make, even though many of you have only been here for a week. Amazingly, you will leave here almost before you know it, but if you use well the gift of time that God has given each of us, you will make your priceless and distinct mark on Notre Dame, even as you leave becoming who God means you to be.

During your time here you’ll be asked countless times, certainly by your parents, but by others too, “What will you do with your degree? What are you going to do when you graduate? What kinds of careers are you thinking about?” Hopefully you will hone in on the answers to those questions. But your career will only be part of who you become by the time you’re officially an alumnus. The good news is that what you discover here, what you come to find that you love and the ways you decide to spend the gift of your time will all help you discern what to do and who you’ll be when you leave.

Over 600 years ago, St. Catherine of Siena said, “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire.” Here, now, you can find what you love and what will dare you to discover who you can become.

Kate Barrett is the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Ministry in Campus Ministry. She can be reached at kbarrett@nd.edu

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