The End of the Beginning
“I’m not even 60 yet, I still have more than half my life to live.”
College has changed me, but not in the ways you might imagine.
Four weeks till the date of my graduation.
You’d think that after spending almost four years in one of the most liberal cities in the world, and attending one of the most progressive minded campuses, I should be graduating as a tree-hugging, God-hating, card carrying communist.
You’d be right on two out of three counts.
I’ll be the first to admit I cared zero about the environment before college (maybe even up to my junior year).
I thought being a vegan was stupid, and I didn’t understand how anyone could worry about animals or plants over humans.
Two environmental classes later, and I’m starting to see the bigger picture. Not sure where I’ll land yet, but I’ve stopped littering at least.
My parents never talked to me about religion. Most people find that completely absurd.
The first time I consciously remember hearing a discussion about God was in first grade, at the age of six. I thought God was a student in another class.
My parents grew up Catholic—my dad is now agnostic, and my mother has always been very private about her devotion.
They just did not see it fit to incorporate it in to my life, but were very happy to answer any questions I had.
I came in to college as an unabashed atheist, as most teenagers who spend a lot of time on Reddit do.
Over the past year, I’ve completely flipped my thinking—and feel myself coming much closer to having faith and believing in a God.
My classes that covered a wide spectrum of religions and beliefs helped open my mind, as did the many diverse friends I made here.
Meditation in particular has also helped me embark on my spiritual awakening.
My switch on politics may be one of the more controversial twists.
I came in actually disinterested. I remember my dad forcing me to watch debates since I was a young kid, and it was mostly filled with me trying not to fall asleep.
As I was figuring out my future, I thought that I would pursue law school, which more naturally led to an exploration of career paths.
My early years of college coincided with the 2016 campaign, and the competitiveness of the space caught my attention.
Now, several campaign cycles and political jobs later, and two half-year stints in D.C. (one courtesy of NYU) have taught me that I want absolutely nothing to do with politics.
Not only that, but I’ve realized that my views are much more moderate by average, and perhaps some lean towards the conservative side. You can also thank some hysterically liberal classmates for that transformation.
Don’t get me wrong. My immense compassion for the people around me has not changed.
I just have different ideas for how to help everyone in society. We can agree to disagree.
So what has college taught me? The same two things that spirituality has.
- I’m immeasurably powerful. We all are.
- Part of this is self-driven arrogance.
- The other is the realization that if you conquer your own headspace (reduce self doubt, anxiety etc.), you can accomplish virtually anything given the motivation.
- Humans have constantly show we’re capable of the impossible (though our power has been used for evil).
- I am nothing in the grand scheme of things. We all are.
- There is some greater force out there, whether it be a monotheistic God, the universe or something in between that makes my life look completely insignificant.
- This realization is humbling, but equally liberating.
- I was always a risk taker, although now that I’m armed with this information, I’m even less afraid of failure.
As I look forward, I’m encouraged by how much more learning and transformation I have to undergo.
The more you know, the more you realize you know nothing.
Above all, I treasure the most empowering knowledge I received, long long ago, by my two greatest teachers.
Love life, and it’ll love you right back.