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Focusing on the future

| Thursday, January 14, 2016

President Obama scared me Tuesday night.

In his final State of the Union address, in his final full year in office — his “senior year,” if you will — he challenged Congress and the country to think and act on the future.

“For my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to talk just about the next year,” Obama said. “I want to focus on the next five years, 10 years, and beyond. I want to focus on our future.”
I don’t. Well, at least I don’t want to right now. It’s my actual senior year, and unlike the president, I prefer to focus not on the future, but on the now. I prefer to forget that five months from now, I will walk across a stage, receive a piece of paper and then be forced to leave this place that has become home over the past four years.
Instead, I want to soak in the moments, the people and the experiences that will eventually become the memories of my final semester at Notre Dame. I want to do this, and I will certainly try, but I know my thoughts, like those of most of my classmates, will eventually drift to my future and to life after Notre Dame.
In fact, as I begin my last semester here, I find it hard not to focus on the future, and that, for me, is scary. The future is always uncertain, and that uncertainty always brings with it at least a little bit of fear. And now, with graduation looming in a few short months, that uncertainty is downright terrifying.
But, I figure I do not have much of a choice other than to embrace the fear and uncertainty and focus on the future. I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions, but I suppose if I did, this would be mine: to cherish the bittersweet end of one chapter of my life and welcome the vulnerability of a new chapter.
I will certainly miss living under the same roof as some of my closest friends and seeing them every day. I will miss the stimulating discussions and debates that spill over from the classroom into the dining hall. I will miss the people, and I will miss this place. Like any good Notre Dame alumnus, though, I’ll be back. And until then, I will have a whole new world to explore and experiences to discover.
But I am getting way ahead of myself here. Yes, as much as it scares me, I will heed the president’s call and focus on the future, whatever it might hold. I don’t have a choice in the matter. But in the meantime, with the little time I still have left as a student here, I am going to take joy in seeing my friends every day, in having engaging conversations on important issues and in walking around our beautiful breathtaking campus, no matter how cold and snowy it is.

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

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About Jack Rooney

Jack is a 2016 graduate of Notre Dame, and The Observer's former managing editor. He is currently spending a year living and working for the University in Ireland, and writing columns to keep him busy. For more random thoughts and plenty of news links, follow Jack on Twitter @RooneyReports.

Contact Jack