By Nick DAngelo
Have you noticed a pattern? Over the spring break, when I realized I would only have eight more columns in my beloved Concordiensis, I was determined to make the most of them.
And so, for the past six weeks I have dedicated my commentary to the place I have come to call my second home.
More than anything, writing this chronicle of columns has afforded me the gratifying opportunity to reflect on all that these four years have meant to me.
Over the course of this term, I have participated in four social science panels for various Admitted Students Days, and have shared my Union experiences with eager, bright-eyed soon-to-be Dutchmen.
During my last presentation, it dawned on me that I was looking out into the future of Union. After all, these would be the individuals who would replace the Class of 2014 in just four months’ time.
While I urged them to select Union (rather persuasively, I hope), I also asked them to make the most of their four years, wherever they chose to attend. In what seems to be a fleeting moment, the time simply slips away.
I also began to think about what I would tell the me of four years ago. How much more do I know now?
The results of my inner reflection were these three cardinal truths from a departing senior: trust yourself and your decisions, regret nothing and never avoid big ideas.
First, trust yourself and your decisions. Looking back on it, the high school I attended was not my first choice, Union wasn’t my first choice of colleges and the law school I will attend next year wasn’t my first choice, either.
However, for one reason or another, previously unacknowledged opportunities often replace those idealized “first choices.”
Throughout my life, my nana has always told me, “You end up exactly where you’re supposed to.”
Nana’s wisdom has guided me through my first twenty-one years, and I have little reason to doubt its accuracy now.
We do end up where we are supposed to.
It is not a Calvinistic path of predestination — our lives are our own — but we are here to achieve some greater purpose, which often manifests itself in unpredictable ways.
Individuals must rally their own confidence, in both decisions and in the embrace of the present circumstance.
Reach that optimal decision by deliberating and reflecting, and then stick with it.
The greatest variable in that equation, though, is faith in one’s self. “Self-trust is the essence of heroism,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Trust your ability and, as Nana argues, you will end up where you belong.
This leads to the second truth: regret nothing. Oftentimes, our confidence in our present place is so deflated that is prevents our own growth.
Life is not stagnant, but a fluidity of transformative energy. Your mindset should be the same: progressive and fluid.
There are better events ahead than any we leave behind. Never allow insecurity, fear or hesitation to dictate your motivation.
Finally, have big ideas. In our world, it often takes individuals with big personalities, big thoughts and big ambitions to make small advances.
Surely, those bold endeavors into the future unknown were what Joseph Campbell had in mind when he challenged individuals to discover the curious explorer within: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
After all, our Alma Mater, “Ode to Old Union,” celebrates the virtues of “the brave and free,” those who charge forward, scale the heights and embrace that larger vision.
That is progress and those ideas are the ones that make our world a better place.
Long after the names have been read, the bagpipes are silenced and the banners come down, may it be said of the Class of 2014 that we made a difference; that we left our mark. And may it be said of us that we carry Union wherever we go.
To the professors who always challenged us and kept their doors open; to the moms who inspired us and told us “you can be anything you want to be”; to the dads who pushed us forward and held us up; to the grandfathers and the grandmothers, the Nanas and the Grannies, who paved the way and reminded us how proud they were; and to each of us, who may have been knocked down, but refused to be knocked out: these four years are for you.