Reflections on giving back
Alexandra Muck | Wednesday, October 2, 2019
I walked into senior year thinking it would be significantly calmer than years before. I imagined myself using the time management skills I have honed over my college years to complete my work efficiently and ahead of schedule, making stellar grades and having plenty of time to hang out with friends without a nagging voice in the back of my mind reminding me that there was something else I had to do. Basically, my senior year was going to be like a musical, although I probably would not be singing any songs as I walked and not danced through it.
That was all before senior year started.
Once I was even just a week or so in, I realized senior year was going to be significantly busier than I had anticipated. There was still the pressure to make good grades, I still had meetings to attend (thanks, Mendoza group projects) and my calendar was feeling full. Don’t get me wrong — I was enjoying everything I was doing, but I was confused as to how exactly it was all blocking out so much time. I felt as if I was only focusing on a few things I really cared about this year, so what could possibly be consuming all my time?
When I sat down one day and actually looked at my calendar, I realized there were some usual suspects that took up time. There were group meetings for class projects, classes themselves, of course, and some standard weekly items such as dorm mass or meals with friends. What I did not realize was that with the very few activities I was still involved in, I had become very involved in and was spending lots of time to make sure they went well. Further, all these activities shared a common theme: most of them had some volunteering or giving-back component.
Reflecting back on my college experience, I have been involved in a variety of different organizations. Any student who has been to the Activities Night or walked past a bulletin board or a dining hall table with some table tents on it has realized that there are a million different organizations and committees and activities to be involved with at Notre Dame. What I have learned over the year is that the ones that have made the most impact on me (and that I’ve chosen to fill my time with senior year) are the ones that have allowed me to impact others by giving back.
These activities have been challenging at times. They have made me come into contact with people I never would have met otherwise, whether those people are on campus or in South Bend or somewhere else. They have made me think less about what I want to get out of my college experience but instead how I can help others.
In taking this mindset and doing these activities, I have realized that I have also benefitted so much more than I ever thought I would. I have learned about others and their needs, but I have also learned about myself.
So, to the underclassmen, if you want to take one lesson away from a senior, find what you are passionate about and pursue it, but keep in mind some of the most fulfilling opportunities to get involved may be the ones that allow you to expand your circle just a bit and give back to others.