Thinking about Fr. Robert Lawton’s quotation from a recent commencement address has helped me to realize that many of the anxieties I feel about beginning my college career are directly connected to this idea of risk…
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If my friends are going bungee jumping or parasailing I usually will find that I have something pressing that needs to be attended to immediately, such as tidying my sock drawer. The issue is not if I ever take risks; I do. The real issue for me is deciding if the risk warrants the reward. Fr. Robert Lawton’s words have helped me to see that taking risks in order to discover who I really am during my college career are risks that will pay great rewards. Who doesn’t want to have happiness and a feeling that God approves of who we are and what we are doing? Ultimately, if I accomplish this level of happiness and closeness with God, I will feel as though I have lived a life of real substance and value. Fr. Robert Lawton said that this journey would be risky, and I believe him. In my mind, I see three potential risks that will need to be faced when journeying to discover how to be myself. I believe that if these three risks can be overcome, I will have accomplished something great during my college education in addition to all of the knowledge I will gain. The first of these three risks is the risk that I will discover I am a very different person than I am now. We all have preconceived notions about our state of being. I have a whole list of likes and dislikes. One of my great failings is that I tend to be judgmental about those who have different tastes and values than myself. I catch myself forming opinions about others based on wholly superficial criteria more often than I care to admit. A nice pair of shoes, the type of car and the city or neighborhood a person lives in too often informs my opinion. The risk of journeying to discover my true self and being judgmental of others scares me because I may discover the things I have used to differentiate myself from others really do not matter to me anymore. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I like who I am right now. I recognize that I have much to learn but I am comfortable with me. The risk for me centers on discovering I’m not who I thought I was and that I might mourn the loss of my old self. I have no desire to look back on my high school self and be glad that I am no longer that person. I would like to think I have arrived at most of my authentic self at this point in my life, but I have the suspicion that everyone looks back on their high school self and has regrets. The risk of becoming your true self is you must necessarily reject portions of the person that you are today. To me, that sounds very uncomfortable. A second risk that needs to be overcome on the road to becoming my authentic self is the risk of defying expectations. I have a way I would like to see my life turn out. So do my family and friends. The risk of opening myself up to change is apparent when I realize that the change may disappoint some of the people I love. I will be exposed to new people and ideas at college. What if I find myself changing course and it is a course I’m not sure my loved ones will accept? I feel that taking this risk to find my true self will be perhaps the hardest. My family has always been loving and supportive. I would never want to disappoint them in any way. But according to the words of Fr. Robert Lawton, I may need to take that risk or I may be sacrificing my own happiness and relationship with God. A final risk I anticipate in this journey is never knowing when you have arrived at the journey’s end. How will I now when I have arrived? I know too many people from my parent’s and grandparent’s generation that seem to think their happiness lies in their new yoga class or the next protest movement they can join. They seem to be constantly seeking but never finding what they are looking for. I think they are looking for a sense of self. The risk for me looking to identify my true
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