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Seniors, we’re all still works in progress

John Cameron | Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rounding out my four years at Notre Dame, I feel like I’ve seen it all. I’ve learned a lot about myself, other people and the world: both through an academic lens and otherwise. That being said, I’m not going to impart some groundbreaking wisdom. Frankly, I’m still a work in progress.
Up until college, it seems like life is a series of checkpoints, always with a designated “next.” Whether your Domer parents indoctrinated you at birth or you wandered your way here, there’s a certain designated path, or at least expectation, to take the next step toward adulthood prevailing in the educational system.
Then the “real world,” as so many call it, hits. While it seems like a fitting description relative to the Notre Dame “bubble” we see ourselves in, I struggle with the question: If we’re heading into the real world, what world have I been living in for the past four years?
From the vantage point of (as I write this) 12 days before commencement, I can tell you I feel like I’ve got the world a whole lot less figured out than I thought I would by now. Yes, I got the job I wanted in the city I wanted to live in surrounded by the friends I wanted, but I feel anything but settled.
At least for me, the saddest thought throughout the latter half of college is that we’re reaching some sort of endpoint: That there’s graduation and then it’s all downhill. It may be naive for me to say I choose to – have to – believe this isn’t necessarily the case. Sure, life will probably never be as carefree and fun. But it wasn’t the nights at Finny’s or the Game Days that have made me into the person I am today (or at least not entirely). It’s the challenges and struggles, the ups and downs; we know the real world has no shortage of those.
Life up until college is exciting because, while there’s so much certainty in the short-term, we have our “whole lives ahead of us,” with infinite potential and opportunity. Once we’ve taken our first step into the adult world, many of us – myself included – can’t help but feel a sense of loss for all the doors that we might have forgone in choosing the one door we did.
The problem with looking at life as a succession of achievements and diplomas before the final drop into the real world is that it implies we’re no longer growing and changing. College is called the formative years – and no doubt, they’ve been the most formative of my life thus far – but we’re not formed at 22.
The kid who got dropped off at Keough Hall in 2009 and the person walking across the stage Sunday are profoundly different, and that’s not a bad thing. My greatest hope for life after my undergraduate years at Notre Dame end is that the coming years continue to present opportunities and challenges that leave me just as changed by 2017, 2021 and 2025.
John Cameron is graduating with a degree in Finance and Political Science. He would like to thank his family for guiding him along the path to Notre Dame and supporting him throughout, his roommates from freshman year to the present for putting up with his stress attacks and messy living spaces, his professors for equipping him with the skills and ethical sensibilities to succeed and the University of Notre Dame for the best four years of his life. He can be reached at
[email protected].
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.