Week One of the Homeward Run [Guest Post: Erin Malone]

Erin Malone ’13 is a Communication Major and English Minor. Amongst her many activities on campus, Erin is an intern in the Office for Undergraduate Students. Thanks Erin!

It has become glaringly obvious that this semester is going to be full of ‘lasts’, the first Maone_Orientationof which was my last-first week of semester, and most recently my last home swim meet. The day-to-day grind of college can sometimes feel dull and boring, maybe even sometimes overwhelming. But, in every day there is something special – something even amazing – and for me, every day just keeps getting better. So this week, as I continue to take on my series of lasts, I toast not only the days to come, but also the days that have been as I reflect back on my very first year at Villanova, and the greatest lessons I have learned.

Lesson #1: Don’t underestimate the power of introductions.

At the time, I did not see orientation as a happy and exciting celebration of the four years ahead, but rather, a tiring and unnecessarily awkward weekend of forced icebreakers, and cheering. After two days of busy, name tag-wearing games, I was ready to run back to Philadelphia airport and catch the next plane back to Australia. Obviously I didn’t (realistically I’m far too lazy for such an act). Instead I created one of most resonating memories from my time at college. While the many ice breakers just to learn each other’s names were tedious and frustrating, it resulted in personally knowing at least 24 people on this campus, by name and interests, even to this day. Orientation was also the beginning of two of my best friendships here at Villanova; I know they will continue long after graduation in May. Now as I look at the value of networking and the importance of relationships, I look back at these introductions and think how dearly I would love the opportunity to go back through my years at Villanova to meet and remember all these people again.

Lesson #2: Embrace your core requirements.

It is no surprise to many that I utterly detested the idea of taking core subjects unrelated to my communication major. Instead of spending my first two years ticking off requirements, I put the majority of them off until my junior and senior year (the idea of which would now send most seniors stomachs hurling). However, what I learnt by easing my way into these classes is that everything is interconnected, whether you’re taking existential English, environmental theology, economics, or microbiology. I have been able to appreciate every general class for what it is (not what I wish it were) and see it as part of the bigger picture. Yes, I am a second semester senior taking History 1050 and Philosophy 1000, but already I am seeing connections in these classes to the seven semesters of learning I have already acquired and can now approach them with the excitement and attention they deserve.

Lesson #3: Never be afraid to let go and change.

If you’re like me, you arrived at college with a vague idea of what the experience should be like, and who you are going to become. While it’s good to have goals, sometimes following an image rather than listening to what we are feeling means we can miss a passing opportunity to become something completely different – something even better. As a freshman student athlete, I arrived with the image of becoming an Olympic swimmer (this is not a joke – this was my unwavering goal as a freshman). I focused so much energy and time into swimming, staring straight ahead at my goal, that I missed all the amazing opportunities I was passing on my journey; friendships, campus involvement, social organizations, things to see and do. Even when these opportunities came knocking on my door, I would shut the door in their face, unwilling to waiver from my one-direction gaze.

After living like this for a year, I quickly learned that a one-track vision is not only stressful, but also very lonely. During a summer of soul searching, I challenged myself to return to school as a sophomore ready to embrace what it could be, not what I thought it should be – a happy revelation that led me to realize I could still chase my goal of being a great swimming, but I could also be so much more. Please don’t misunderstand my point here – have goals, and dream big – just don’t forget to stop and look around every once in a while to see what else you may be missing.

While I learned so much more in my first year at Villanova, these three lessons have helped guide me through my subsequent years, leading me to where I now stand. As I head into my final semester, I hope to continue embodying these values, and hope that others may read this and take a moment to stop to look back at just how far they too have already come, and all the places they may go – freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and even seniors. College is a journey and graduation the final destination for us all, but the route to get there is unplanned, with endless variations, so don’t be afraid to take the time to explore, experience, and evolve.

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