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Life is too short to leave words unsaid

Amanda Pena | Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Take a moment to think of the impact some people have had on your life. Though some may’ve been negative, be grateful you had those experiences to help shape you. As the year winds down to an end and most of my best friends will be graduating, I can’t help but sit back and reflect on the people who have impacted my life during my first two years here at Notre Dame. It was a rough transition, and a lot of tears were shed in my first year. I tried adjusting to life 2,000 miles away from home while being a minority and handling new faces, lost friendships and a boyfriend abroad. I didn’t have the ideal freshman year experience and struggled to find a niche where I could thrive.
When my second semester rolled around, I had the comfort of a boyfriend to fill the gaps in my complicated life. I was happy while the relationship lasted, and when I see him around campus, I sometimes wish I could thank him for the things he had taught me and the experiences that helped me begin finding myself. I wish things were good enough to catch him up on my life and listen to the exciting things I’m sure his life is presenting him. It’s something I will never know, and maybe it is for the best, but I am grateful for the difficult lessons he and his friends taught me while they are still here.
After a transformational summer interning in Chicago, I began my sophomore year with great intent, passion and ambition. I worked very hard to make a name for myself and serve as a positive influence in the lives of everyone I had met and continue to meet. Last semester, I earned a flattering GPA, was offered a summer internship in Bolivia and accepted to study abroad in Brazil during the Spring 2014 semester. I successfully self-designed a major in sustainable development studies and have plans to join the Peace Corps upon graduation. My life has slowly fallen into place and I am aware of the power and passion I carry. I am confident in myself, excited for the future and committed to constantly growing as a person of the world.
Thankfully, this past year was spent making incredible memories with some of the greatest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I have made a family at Notre Dame – one that is entirely supportive, loving and understanding. My heart aches as each day inches closer to graduation, but swells with the knowledge I have found people who love and appreciate every aspect of me. These people have been essential to my growth and personal development. I could not have been more blessed to have them in my life. Next year, I will lose another group of incredible people to graduation and soon after, I will be joining them in the real world two years from now.
I have met thousands of people in my lifetime and very few have stuck around for more than a few years. But that’s life. People change, grow apart, move on and inevitably die. It is easier to let arguments destroy relationships than it is to swallow pride and apologize. It is more comfortable to follow the crowd than to stand up, speak out and be noticed. But own up to the decisions you make and listen to the lessons they try to teach you. If I have learned anything in these recent years, life is more satisfying when you take risks and have the patience to learn the lessons from disappointing outcomes. Sometimes we can’t change the cards we’re dealt, but if you are a good sport when you lose, you might be invited to play another game.
Use your time at Notre Dame to get better acquainted with yourself, because if you’re still unsure of yourself it can be harder to find security in your relationships with others. At the end of the day, you’re the only person living your life, so make it’s something worth sharing with the world. Take courses that peak your interests, join clubs with purposes you’re passionate about and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Be proud of who you are. I guarantee you will find someone who can appreciate you even when others don’t.
Life might be unfair and unpredictable, but it teaches us how to love and how to let go. It shows us new horizons and presents new challenges. So thank those who have made you grateful, say “I love you” to those you care about and never spend a moment in regret. As cliché as it sounds, life is simply too short to live it unfulfilled by leaving words left unsaid.

Amanda Peña is a sophomore sustainable                  development studies major with a poverty studies      minor. She can be contacted at apena4@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.