It’s here again.
That time of the year has come once more — when herds of freshmen can be seen dutifully following their orientation schedules, when student leaders and admissions staff appear frazzled by a bevy of questions incessantly asked by anxious parents and when one realizes that the seniors who used to know our Cap Bar order by heart are no longer gracing this college campus with their macchiato magic.
It’s a weird, exciting and nebulous time filled with change and anxiety, not only for freshmen but for returners as well.
Why freshmen or new transfer students might be anxious makes all the sense in the world; no one transitions to a new way of life without it.
The melancholy that returning students might feel, however, is much more mysterious.
Of course, there are almost always concerns about grades, employment after graduation and, always humming in the background, the toxic political climate that we all now deal with. But the type of anxiety I am speaking of is much more specific to the students of this Catholic university for independent thinkers.
As sophomores become juniors, having completed most of the Core and beginning to embrace their major, or as juniors become seniors and realize that they now set the standard for what an accomplished UD student is, a weighty sense of responsibility develops under the surface.
UD students are truly rooted in this small, genuine community, and it is this sense of commitment that, while being a source of anxiety and fear for many, also pushes us to excel.
Responsibility is often a terrifying thing. And as we grow into this community, we begin to understand just how deeply rooted we are here, even as we have to begin the process of separating ourselves from it.
But that is what makes UD truly special. We realize our responsibility to each other and experience all of the fear associated with that, but most of us rise above it and embrace the challenge of growing and preparing.
It’s okay to feel afraid. Actually, if you aren’t feeling it, you might want to ask yourself why you aren’t.
Students are afraid because they know something very true, and they are better off for it. Yet, just because we feel fear and anxiety does not mean that these feelings should dictate the way we act.
True integrity is shown when those who are afraid, anxious or even terrified, act according to the truth that they know, instead of the fear that they feel.
No matter whether you’re a returning student, a new freshman or a transfer student, know that it is both normal and positive to be afraid, just so long as you’re determined to take responsibility for your role in this community and help one other rise above any anxieties that are seeking to tear us down.