The Jesuit motto Ad maiorem dei gloriam, or “for the greater glory of God,” has stuck with me since the first time I heard it. “WHAT for the greater glory of God?” I remember thinking, assuming that I had missed the first part of the phrase.
The open-endedness of this phrase is what I love the most about it. There is no set formula for what we are called to do “for the greater glory of God.” Rather, this is something that we define for ourselves, and which can, and probably should, change again and again over time.
However, this is an idea that I struggled with when I first came to Georgetown.
When I arrived on the Hilltop, I thought I had my four-year, maybe even ten-year, plan figured out. I knew my major, the clubs I wanted to join, even what I wanted to do post graduation — everything fit perfectly into this image of my college life. I do not know exactly why this is what I thought I should do, but I definitely did. I think it may just have been almost a sense of comfort to have this “plan” tucked away in my head.
Especially at Georgetown, surrounded by people driven by passion and blessed with extraordinary talent, it is incredibly easy to feel lost amidst the everyday life of the university. One of the most frequently asked questions is “What do you do?” and I found that the easiest way to answer to this daunting question was just to fall back on the identity that fit in with my plan.
Yet, this was the worst possible thing that I could have done to myself. It limited me to the mindset of the 18-year-old who had initially conceived this plan and made it impossible for me to fully recognize the new opportunities that I was being presented with at Georgetown. But the idea of abandoning my plan was too frightening to even imagine. In my head, that was the equivalent of failure, and I was much too scared to admit that I had failed.
However, through my time at Georgetown, I gradually came to realize that “failure” to stick to my plan was actually just part of the process of growing up and that the vulnerability I was feeling was just a sign that I was becoming more open to new possibilities.
One of the many reasons that I now call Georgetown home is because it is here that I learned that feeling vulnerable is okay. It might not be fun at times, but it is okay. Through vulnerability, I came to realize what I truly wanted from my Georgetown experience: to grow. Not to grow into whom I thought I should be, but simply to grow in a way makes me more humble, kind and giving.
Georgetown offers opportunities that can only be dreamed about by others. From interning on Capitol Hill to attending basketball games at the Verizon Center, Hoyas’ college experiences are unlike those of any other college. Yet what truly sets our university apart is this unfailing mission statement of the Jesuits: to serve the greater glory of God. This allowed me to realize that it is okay to not have life planned out step by step and to take each day as an opportunity to serve.
To the underclassmen, the best advice I received before coming to college was to “be open to new experiences.” However, the best advice that I can give is to “be open to a new you.” I wish I had figured this out sooner during my time at Georgetown, and I’m incalculably jealous that you still have time left on the Hilltop that we call home.
However, as sad as I am to be graduating, I am so excited for the next step. Not having the next five years entirely planned out doesn’t seem as frightening as it used to, and I credit this entirely to the way that Georgetown has prepared me to embrace with open arms whatever comes my way.
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