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Who I have become

| Friday, May 15, 2015

I like to distance myself from the high school version of me.

She knew a lot less, balanced her life a lot less, was a lot less confident. And I don’t like that.

My fiancé wrote a column the other day though, “Four years and one lifetime ago” (April 22), that got me thinking maybe I’ve been wrong.

He reread and reflected on his college entrance essays and offered this advice: “Change in ways that would make that optimistic high school senior proud. I can only pray that my former self would approve of my new answers and who I have become.”

My first thought: “Wow, I’m glad I said ‘Yes’ when he asked me to marry him at the Grotto. He rocks.”

My next thought was that I have spent so much time disapproving of my former self that I have forgotten to wonder if she would approve of me.

When I came to Notre Dame, I was wildly optimistic about what I could accomplish. Some of it I got around to. A lot of it I didn’t. There just weren’t enough hours. But at the end of the day, I’ve learned to be proud of who I am, and I like to think the high school senior who thought I could do anything would be too.

I think she’d be proud because of what I consider the best thing I learned.

I’m the type of person who likes to plan her day down to the minute, checking off as many things as possible. I’ve learned, though, that what’s more important than how many things I get done in a day is doing every one of those things I check off with joy and my whole heart.

I’m not sure I would have received that lesson so clearly somewhere else, and that’s why I love Notre Dame.

My favorite part of my career here is that I enjoyed fully every one of the things I did accomplish. I had professors, friends and classmates who encouraged me to think this way, to love what I invest my time in. Singing in the Women’s Liturgical Choir and working for The Observer helped too.

I’m incredibly thankful that Notre Dame encourages this kind of education of the heart. Without it, I would be much less prepared for whatever comes after my time at Notre Dame.

I know now to take 15 minutes to stop at places like the Grotto, to listen to a friend’s story about a squirrel outside the dining hall or to grab quarter dogs with my roommate. I know to invest in these moments and love each one of them.

I was always happier for it. My work came out better too. It always seemed like I had accomplished more than if I had finished my assignment a half hour earlier.

I’m glad high school me thought I could accomplish so much. I’m happy she was motivated and arrived at Notre Dame hoping to learn from anyone and anything she encountered here.

I’m just as hopeful about my future after Notre Dame.

I hope that in three years, when I graduate from law school, I can look back on the Notre Dame senior who was so hopeful and know she’d be proud.

Samantha Zuba is graduating with a degree in English, as well as a supplementary major in German and a minor in the Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She would like to thank her parents for making it possible for her to attend Notre Dame, her sister for making her laugh and her fiancé for always making her want to be a better person. In the fall, she will attend Georgetown Law and can be contacted at the email address she created as a middle-schooler, canthelpsinging2@comcast.net

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

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