It’s okay to take time
Kyle Palmer | Thursday, March 5, 2015
Last Tuesday evening, I learned that I wasn’t selected to be a Resident Assistant. Predictably, I wasn’t happy with the situation. I had built up my expectations and thought I was qualified enough for the position. Then I took a step back and realized how I had fallen into such a self-centered view. Earlier that day, I had a shift with the tax assistance program, a program offered through the accounting department in Mendoza to help file taxes for free for people throughout the community with less-than-average family incomes. I worked on two families’ taxes that day, and saw the situation they were in. One man could only get work for four months out of the year. A single mother couldn’t work at all because of a physical disability. I felt terrible. There I was, unhappy because I didn’t get selected for something I wanted that was by no means a necessity, and these people were barely getting by.
The week went on and just as it was coming to a close on Friday morning, I read the email about Father Hesburgh’s passing. I never really got to know Fr. Ted; I never actually met him and only saw him once or twice at different events. I knew about his monumental role in civil rights and decision to open the university to women and heard a good number of stories of how amazing he was in person. Even though I had never met him, I felt a profound sadness when I read he was gone. At the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra that Friday night, they concluded with a rendition of ‘Notre Dame, Our Mother’ in Fr. Ted’s honor. As reluctant as I am to express emotion (which you might not guess from the content of this viewpoint), I felt a chill and got goose bumps thinking about Fr. Ted’s life. I was humbled at that point, thinking there is virtually no chance I could make as great an impact as him, but felt comforted all the same.
It amazes me how much emphasis the student body here puts on getting internships and setting up as many interviews as possible. Of course we are here to prepare for the rest of our lives, and careers are a huge part of that, but we get caught up in it sometimes more than we should. People worry so much about getting an on-campus job or locking in that dream internship that they forget to observe what’s going on around them and enjoy the day for what it is. Admittedly, I’m no exception to this; I’ve had some sort of internship going every summer. The problem arises when students spend every free minute they have looking for a job. They keep their head down and refuse to acknowledge anyone around them they don’t already know. They refuse to do anything outside the routine because there’s supposedly no time for it.
I feel that’s not what Fr. Ted would have wanted his students to be doing, but again I never met him — I only say this based on what I’ve read and heard. He would absolutely want us to be successful in our endeavors, but he would encourage us to live healthy social and spiritual lives as well. I believe he would discourage us from putting on the horse blinders and focusing solely on our career as we so often do. He would’ve discouraged me from being so invested in something that wasn’t necessary and would encourage me to think of those with greater problems. It’s okay to go join a club for fun rather than to further your career prospects. It’s okay to take a walk around campus the day before an exam to clear your head, instead of staying inside in the interest of time. Take the time to walk to the grotto and pray and challenge the way you are currently living. It’s okay to go and do a service project without seeking praise or putting it on your resume. There’s nothing wrong with striking up a conversation with a stranger who’s alone in the dining hall — you never know who might need a smile and a joke. Don’t worry so much about the next step on your career path that you forget you have limited time here on this campus. Take time to enjoy it.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.