Over the last four years, my goal has been to graduate from Marquette without any regrets. It’s been to take advantage of every opportunity and to leave my mark on an institution that has been, more than a mere place of study, a home away from home.
For the most part, I’m satisfied with the progress that’s been made on that goal. I’ve taken the classes, put in the study hours, participated in the extracurricular activities, attended the retreats, done the service, built the relationships and made the memories that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.
With graduation quickly approaching, though, I’ve started to realize that all the involvement and studying may not have been enough. Maybe I should have focused more on people. Maybe I should have focused more on myself.
What if my goal was too calculated? Did I let schedules, agendas and work responsibilities dictate my time and relationships here? Perhaps I allowed these things to inhibit everything a true college experience has to offer.
It was an incredible revelation the first time this thought crossed my mind.
Last August, my roommate, her boyfriend and I climbed the construction scaffolding on Gesu Church. The possibility was something I’d thought about each day on my walk to the Rec Plex, and one night the decision was finally made to do it.
The climb was creaky, dirty, highly dangerous and potentially one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. It was also one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve had at Marquette.
After I was settled at the top and the heart-pounding fears of falling to my death or being fired from my job on the Orientation Planning Team had subsided, I looked out over campus and felt at peace. It was a joyous calm uninterrupted by life’s daily stresses, and a moment of clarity as I enjoyed the view.
It was the first time I’d felt such peace in a long time.
I could see everything – the twinkling lights of downtown reflected on the lake, runway signals at the airport, cars zooming along the highway and the entirety of campus as it slept.
In that moment I thought, “This is my school. This is my city. And this is my home.”
Too often we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone – cliche, yes, but true. This is an especially important sentiment when it comes to a student’s college career.
College is about more than a daily routine of class, work, study and play.
It’s about skipping class to listen to a speaker. It’s about forgetting to study because a walk to the lake is more appealing. It’s about making time to call loved ones. It’s about stepping outside of comfort zones to try new things. It’s about serving others and making the world a better place. It’s about reflection. It’s about remembering that there is a world beyond Marquette. And it’s about taking care of yourself in order to take care of others.
Nobody will disagree that a high GPA, an impressive resume and job security are important, but life has a dreary outlook if these are the only things that matter.
Although I’ve made satisfying progress on my initial goal, I’ll still graduate in three weeks with one regret. The regret will be that I didn’t recognize the value of people soon enough. Friends, family, loved ones, mentors, supervisors, colleagues and role models have made me who I am today. And doing the things I enjoy with the people I love is what makes my life meaningful.
So as cliche as it sounds, don’t wait until it’s too late to discover what is valuable within your own life. This realization might not come as a result of climbing Gesu Church (in fact, I highly suggest … beg, even … that you do not do that), but when it does occur, fully embrace it and carry it forward.
Four years at Marquette will be over in the blink of an eye, and it’s far too short a time not to make the things that matter count.
Brooke Goodman is a senior studying journalism and political science. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or feedback.