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Amanda Michaels | Tuesday, October 14, 2003

I’m about to make a confession that could be considered scandalous, shocking or even blasphemous – at least on this campus. It’s not something I’ve told many people, though that is obviously about to change, and believe me, my views have changed since then. With that said, here it goes.

I wasn’t thrilled to be coming to Notre Dame.

That’s right. I got my letter on the day my family went out to get our Christmas tree last year, and in a moment that was made even more anti-climactic by the visible ‘congratulations!’ in the address window, I was accepted. I smiled, my mom cried, we bought a tree. I fulfilled the expectations set for me by my friends, family and teachers, and was off to one of the finest academic institutions in the country. I gave wary smiles to ND fanatics and half-heartedly affirmed how excited I was, and how much I loved it. About 9,000 seniors across the country would kill to be in my position as a future Domer, but that didn’t seem to matter.

I still wasn’t ecstatic.

For a while, I blamed it on the fact that Notre Dame had never been my ultimate college goal. I was no legacy. I never wore a Notre Dame cheerleading outfit as a toddler and didn’t write essays in elementary school about why Rudy was my hero. I worked and studied and joined every activity under the sun in high school because I was obsessive and wanted to be the best, not because I thought they would improve my chances of getting in here.

It’s not until now, after two months at the most perfect university I could have chosen for myself, that I realize that it was that unfocused, break-neck pace that was the problem.

In high school, my goals had been so far up in the heights of Olympus that I never saw them. On the 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. days I spent running from school to the newspaper to the theatre to the marching band, I was like a mouse in a maze, frantically trying to get to my reward but always seeming to turn the wrong way.

So when graduation rolled by, after the glow from my five minutes of fame faded, I was left with nothing but a piece of paper and three months to think about what it meant. Was this really the fruit of my labor? A university shrouded in tradition, but still more tangible than any of my previous dreams had been – was it right for me? Was I reaching down? Reaching up?

Was it all worth it?

I see now that it was. I’m no big believer in destiny or kismet or Fate or what have you, but I can safely say that every hour spent suffering through Chemical Biology or sleeping on a cramped bus after a band competition helped bring me here today. I am so content and happy here, in part because I have chosen a different approach to college than I did to high school, but also because I know that I belong here, no matter what my doubts once were.

So now, with clear conscience, I can go back home for fall break and reply honestly to anyone who asks, “Yes, I love it at Notre Dame, and no, I wouldn’t change my decision for anything.”