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We jump, we land

| Friday, May 16, 2014

Graduation is upon us at last. Soon, we won’t go to classes in DeBart Monday through Thursday and sometimes Friday. We won’t reconvene after a night out in the dining hall, or at The Mark, or at the Pancake House. We won’t sway in the student section at football games; we won’t run around the lakes. The “we” that exists now, won’t exist anymore — we’re scattering across the country and across the world.

It’s now goodbye, but it doesn’t feel like farewell.

My time at Notre Dame has shown me all around the map of student life — I started as a member of the varsity rowing team and finished as a Writing Center Tutor as well as Assistant Managing Editor at The Observer.

What connects that freshman Nicole who was dropped off at Cavanaugh Hall four years ago and the senior Nicole who soon will be leaving my home of the past four years is simple: excitement.

I am excited for what lies ahead of me, even though I will miss what stays behind at Notre Dame. But really, I don’t buy that college is the best four years of your life. If it is, I feel like that means I haven’t been living life quite right.

Let’s face it, we all made it to Notre Dame because we’re smart and we work hard; we set goals and we reach them. We will graduate from Notre Dame this weekend because we successfully navigated college: completing classes, working jobs and most importantly, nurturing friendships that shaped the people we are today.

Now we’re ready for the “real” world, whatever that means. We’re ready to pursue an advanced degree, to start a new job, to move to a new city, to meet new people and to know new places.

We’re ready. Still, it’s not going to be easy.

Seeing our friends maybe a few times a year instead of every day or a few times a week will be hard. Working throughout the year, with no month-long Christmas break, will be hard. Paying for everything by ourselves will be hard.

Figuring all of that out is important. But for me, for all of us, my only hope is that we find ways to be excited.

I want to engage with the world, to always be exploring. I want to work hard and do things that matter, to serve a purpose higher than myself. I want to spend my time with people I care about, loving and learning as we grow together.

Moving on from Notre Dame definitely will require a leap of faith — leaving behind the University and the people who have been our home for the past four years is scary, especially when it’s not clear where and how we will land after we jump.

But I have to believe that when we do jump, we will land on our feet. And a big part of what will help us is this community we built together here.

I’ve felt the Notre Dame spirit as it extends beyond the Notre Dame campus while interning in Washington for the past two summers and visiting friends who graduated before me. I’ve seen it in the offices of the six members of Congress who made time to speak with me last summer, a random student from their alma mater who wanted to write about them for the newspaper. I’ve seen it in the guy wearing a Bookstore Basketball shirt walking down Connecticut Avenue in D.C. who was (almost) as excited as I was to find another Notre Dame graduate halfway across the country. And I’ve seen it in the graduated friends who return for football games, who share stories about their new endeavors in various parts of the world.

The Notre Dame family stretches around the world, and no matter where we go or what we do after this, that will stay constant.

And our hearts forever, Love Thee Notre Dame.

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

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About Nicole Michels

Assistant Managing Editor of The Observer, Notre Dame class of 2014, Gchatter extraordinaire and the most ridiculous of them all

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