As a UD alum, I remember very distinctly being where you are now: new to the University of Dallas, trying to absorb and balance all the change and excitement that comes along with this phase of life.
Having been out of college for a little while now, I wish I was able to go back and tell my incredibly nervous and homesick freshman self a few things. But, since time travel hasn’t been perfected yet — despite what Back to the Future II projected for the year 2015 … — I’ll share them with you instead.
First, your relationship with God should be your #1 priority.
That’s right. Not friends, not sports, not even your studies. God has to be number one in your life if you want anything to work out. That doesn’t mean that you should spend every hour of the day in a church on your knees — even monks don’t do that! — but trust me when I say that, if you don’t put God first before all else, you will notice. There were a number of times that I thought I was “too busy” to pray or “didn’t have time” to go to Mass. And when I put God on the back burner, it became evident very quickly. Even if you only have a few minutes to spare in your day, give them to God. He notices, and you will too.
Second, you don’t have to be friends with everybody.
It is really tempting to think that everyone you meet this year is going to be a lifelong friend. Friendships come and go, and only the really worthy ones will withstand the test of time. The point of a friendship is for those involved to help one another grow in virtue. And some people you meet in college are just not going to do that. The people who give you a hard time for standing up for what you believe in and for doing the right thing are not your friends. Your friends are the ones who back you up, who support your growth, respect your boundaries and care about you at your best and at your worst. Fitting in with the crowd really isn’t worth it when it comes to a lack of morality. There are some things you just don’t need to experience. At the end of the day, it is worth it to be sober, in one piece and in your own bed. Stay friends with the people who help you grow closer to God, and do the same for them.
Third, sometimes plans change, and that’s okay.
What area of study you enter into college thinking you want to major in might not be the degree with which you graduate. The relationship or vocation you want might not actually be what God is calling you to do. Our plans change because we change. We are imperfect. But God never changes, because God is perfect. Instead of making plans for yourself and stubbornly sticking to them at the expense of your own happiness and that of those around you, try putting your efforts toward figuring out what God is calling you to do. Trust in Him, His plan, His timing. If things don’t go exactly the way you thought they would, it probably means that you are listening to Him.
If you decide not to take all these points to heart, that’s okay. Just please remember the first. Everyone is different, but there’s just no getting around that one.
Best of luck, and my prayers are with you!
Karen Bless, BA ‘15,
is the Assistant to the Chaplain & Rector
and works in the Campus Ministry office,
located in SB Hall, room 254.