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Goodbye, Miss Notre Dame

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, November 10, 2005

For about three weeks, Notre Dame was great.

After that, my life rapidly became a mess of betrayal, boredom, loneliness, disillusionment and disappointment. In just one freshman month, I’d seen beyond the glamorous facade of college life. The few late-night conversations with my roommate had ended, the novelty of college parties had faded, and the deadline for settling into social arrangements had passed.

A semester later, the college routine was familiar. I felt less betrayed, bored, lonely, disillusioned and disappointed. My roommate and I ignored each other, I got my homework done, I hung out with a random assortment of people, and I attended a club meeting or two.

But, that was it. I was used to college, tolerated college, survived college.

And despite having finally “adapted” to my new environment, I still wasn’t happy. Was this it? This was the great Notre Dame experience that I was to cherish and reminisce about and give money to for the rest of my life?

It wasn’t enough.

I wanted friends who didn’t begin whispering about me the moment I left the room. I wanted to learn more than how to make money and shotgun beers. I wanted to do things that mattered – not just things I needed to check off my college to-do list and stash away for fond re-telling.

I wanted to be more than Miss Notre Dame – more than the smart, pretty, white, Catholic, upper-middle class, well-rounded girl from the Midwest -the one who always smiled because a person so lucky could quickly become a disappointment if she had any flaws.

Three years later, my smile isn’t fake. I smile because I found a group of people that don’t want me to be Miss Notre Dame, they want me to be Jennifer.

They share my hopes, joys, thoughts and fears because they love me. They also want to do something that matters, so they put everything in common for the sake of a real work: building the Kingdom of God. I found the People of Praise.

Now my life looks radically different. I don’t worry about my friends gossiping about me or using me. I don’t need to be beautiful, brilliant and flawless for them to love me; my friends love me for just being Jennifer. Together, we spend our nights and weekends living differently – living a vision for how the world might be, instead of as a constant stream of experiences to collect. We don’t need to worry about what kind of jobs to get after graduation -we’ve already begun jobs building the Kingdom, with 2,000 of our closest friends.

Come join us. Come be a part of what God is doing and experience a new way to live.