After having a week to get settled into the new semester, we will soon see the freshman class begin to divide into its first distinct cliques. The “Cool Kids” will start to be a recognizable set, perhaps a small group of athletes will claim a café table, and the chairs on the mall will soon be used regularly by a group of Jerome girls or Madonna guys.
These cliques are a regular occurrence and, for the freshmen at least, a helpful tool for getting one’s feet wet in the University of Dallas social life and day-to-day culture. This is natural. Our friends should be those who we feel comfortable around — those with whom we feel that we can be our most genuine and real selves.
Yet we must guard against the temptation to close ourselves off from meeting other people. Our most genuine and real selves aren’t always who we expect, and it would be a great mistake to allow others to shape us.
Of course, we all know how we want to be perceived. It isn’t difficult to determine people we want to be associated with, and the ones we want to avoid like the plague. If we are content with a very high school experience, finding a group of three or four people would not be difficult, and our time at UD could be spent exclusively with a small group of good, but very safe friends.
But playing it safe does not cut it here. While on this campus, we will be fed a diet of epic poems and great heroes. We will be trained in the arena of philosophy to learn how to question and, perhaps, even how to answer. We will be placed on a timeline of the history of Western Civilization, and charged to move it forward into new generations. Our mascot is a Crusader, a knight in shining armor who literally doesn’t know when he’s been beaten.
Here at UD we love challenges, and we see in them opportunities to grow. This is obviously true in our academic pursuits, but should also be a principle of our social lives. Through expanding our friend group and network on campus, we quickly find both how similar and unique we actually are.
Obviously, stereotypes persist, and there are plenty of labels to go around. However, more common ground exists among us than we at first realize. Of course we have the Core and the Rome experience in common, but we also have that simple, but real, integral desire for truth. As the first weeks back fly by, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Meet other people, seek out friends from previous semesters, and participate in activities with other groups and clubs. Regardless of background or experience, a love for what is true and beautiful is a great foundation for friendships that challenge and reward.