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viewpoint

Finding unexpected happiness

| Friday, May 19, 2017

“I’m not going here.”

My mom and I are sitting in the admissions office, and I am fuming as I page through the “Welcome Home!” view book.

“They have Mass every day.”

My mom looks at me, exasperated. After touring every college east of Chicago with me, it’s become almost her permanent expression.

“That doesn’t mean you have to go every day. Or at all.”

I look out the window.

“It’s snowing. In APRIL.”

She rolls her eyes, not even dignifying that one with a response.

“Just give it a chance.”

I slam the admissions book shut, settling back into the chair, determined to hate it.

“OK, but I’m not going here.”

However, despite my best efforts, I ended up here. Even after loudly complaining about everything on the tour — parietals! the distance from home! the weather (again)! — I found myself slowly cracking. I couldn’t explain it, but I wanted to be here so badly that it ached (the cute tour guide didn’t hurt, either). I didn’t know why, but I just knew I needed to be here.

I spent my first night at Notre Dame laying on the linoleum floor of my half-unpacked room, crying on FaceTime with my mom. She was half-asleep, huddled in the bathroom of a hotel room down the street, whispering so that she wouldn’t wake up my dad and brother. Between sobs, I told her that I wanted to go home, I wanted to go to community college, I didn’t know why I was here, I couldn’t do it. She sleepily murmured affirmations, trying to remind me how sure I had felt only months previously, making me promise to at least finish the weekend of orientation activities.

“OK, but I’m not staying here.”

The next day, our rector asked us to write down what we wanted out of our four years here at Notre Dame onto individual slips of cloth that would be tied together to form a chain. I stalled, watching others march up to add their words to the chain, wracking my brain for something to say. I scrawled something quickly, messily, running up to the front to intertwine my wishes with everyone else’s. Knotting it on, it slipped open.

“I want to be happy here.”

And I have been. These last four years have been the best years of my life and writing this column was incredibly hard for me — it’s impossible to convey in words what this place means to me. I don’t think I myself even can grasp how much this place means to me, and I’m not sure I want to even try. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I came here and honestly, I don’t know what I’m getting into when I leave here, but I can only hope it’s half as great as my time here was. There’s so much I still want to do here and so much I want to say to the people that made this place home, but apparently, Notre Dame is pretty strict about their four-years-and-you’re-out rule, so this column will have to suffice as demonstrating my love for this place.

Last week, my mom and I got into a fight. She wanted me to start looking for a dress for graduation, for a job for the summer, for an apartment for next year, for a roommate to live in said apartment next year. I told her I would get to it, to not worry, to not rush me — I have time, I said. She grew frustrated with me, asking why I was delaying the things I needed to do. I only had one answer for her.

“I don’t want to leave here.”

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

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About Kayla Mullen

Kayla is a senior political science major and the Managing Editor of The Observer. She hails from Philadelphia, PA and was previously a resident of Howard Hall.

Contact Kayla