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Make the most of it

| Friday, August 23, 2019

Freshmen, if you’re anything like I was three years ago, you’re probably a nervous and excited wreck right about now.

In the coming days, you’ll meet hundreds of faces and learn name after name you likely won’t remember. You’ll experience the awkwardness of acclimating to a new city, home and friends. Welcome Weekend will mesh into an indiscernible blur of events and classes and people you don’t recognize but also sort of recognize but you also can’t really be sure because you met three Jacks and five Katies and honestly who can really tell at this point.

Through the craze, be sure to remind yourself this experience really is what you make of it. Set a goal for yourself now and hold yourself to it. And like everyone has probably told you a million times already: Challenge yourself to go out of your comfort zone.

You’ve probably heard a lot of advice and will hear more in the coming days. A few of the essentials: Save your flex points, get to know people in your classes, never forget your shower shoes, take naps, be involved but not too involved so you leave time for yourself, approach dining hall doors very carefully and don’t be afraid to say hi to people you know but sort of don’t know when you come across them on campus.

I would tell you go to office hours like everyone else, but to be honest, I never did any of that my freshman year. I was too scared. I didn’t think I was smart enough to even be in those classes, and I didn’t even know what topics to bring up. Don’t box yourself in like I too often did three years ago, because as cheesy as it always sounds, you were chosen to be here for a reason.

Know this transition won’t be easy at first, and that’s OK. You’ll have days in which you question if you made the right decision. There will be times you wonder if you truly fit in to this community, this campus, this culture. There will be moments you struggle to strike a balance between your academics, social life and time for yourself and will have to choose.

We’ve all been there. Change is terrifying. But you will find your rhythm.

Have faith in that, because if you’re like me, there might come a day you’re trudging through ankle-high snow on South Quad in boots that feel way too clunky for your feet, groveling about the philosophy homework you guessed your way through and nursing symptoms from the freshman plague you swore you wouldn’t catch — and then you’ll remember that promise you made yourself all those months ago.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll feel your perspective shift a little bit.

Your life is about to change in a major way, and it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of it all. I’m a little biased, but through that excitement remind yourself to stay involved in campus happenings. Be an advocate and pursue the change you want to see. Understandably, there will be a lot of focus on yourself over this next year — but don’t forget the values that got you here in the first place. You were chosen to attend Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s or Holy Cross because you’re someone who was entrusted to make a difference.

Make the most of it.

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

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith is a senior at the University of Notre Dame. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she served as Editor-in-Chief at The Observer for the 2019-20 term. She is pursuing majors in political science and television with a minor in journalism. // Twitter: @KelliSmithNews

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