By: Taylor Fulkerson
Most of us here at Xavier have been around the block a time or two or three. If you consider a block as one academic year, I was apprehensive, nervous, and severely over-enthusiastic two blocks ago.
I am sure that almost any upperclassman on this campus can tell you a cliché story about a decision in his or her first year, one that affected the rest of his or her college career, his or her life, etc. In reality, everything in college is a commitment to some future: the friends with whom you choose to spend your time will determine how you see yourself; your chosen path of study should influence the way you view everyday life in a pervasive way; and the food you eat will contribute to or detract from your future health.
And the list goes on. This probably comes off as the staging for two very different points of view.
Option one: live overcautiously. You need to be in control of your
own life and your own future, and you can do that and set yourself up for “success” by studying hard and living moderately. The world is at your fingertips if you remain focused.
Option two: live it up. You cannot control all those variables and your fun college days will brighten the dull future that awaits you in cubicles and office buildings where you will find “success,” regardless of how you spend your college days. You will learn on the job once you have the piece of paper that paves your way towards a comfortable career.
Both options are valid lifestyles in college. I, however, would like to propose to you a third option.
As you may have noticed, both options bend the gaze of the future toward you: you are going to be “successful” in some manner. I cannot begin to enumerate the problems with chasing success or with living a life in the first person singular, much less the all too-frequent combination of both that most universities advertise, Xavier included. So, what are we to do?
Option three: live for community. Success is the result of a competition in which there are winners and losers. Success is the result of an economy that lets some people lose, and lose more than just money, while others make more than they need.
Success leaves one solitary person, standing alone at the top of a tower, looking out over the masses in all his or her false power and pride.
Here at Xavier we have a community, and in community we are not called to succeed. We are called to thrive, instead. When we thrive, we recognize each person’s strengths and make sure that each gets what he or she needs. We honor the people around us and a tradition of love that makes us a community. We empower one another, rejecting oppressive power that comes from above.
Looking from the outside, college students are already successful. We have the privilege to commit most of our time to reading books and writing papers and sitting around and thinking (read: doing nothing productive). Grappling for upward mobility beyond that would not only be exceeding the privilege that society has granted us to spend our time studying, but also a blatant abuse of the society that gave us such a gift.
I ask you to reject success and the inherently narcissistic nature of it. We have the option to trust that community can nourish instead of trying to do it all by ourselves.
The first few weeks of this semester will be a series of commitments for everyone, especially for the first years. This is the time to commit by making choices. We could easily choose success by selecting activities and friends, and directing themselves towards our own edification. We could also just as easily commit ourselves to the people and community around us and their edification, merely trusting that they will do the same for us, and that we will all get what we need at the end of the day.
Taylor Fulkerson is the Opinion & Editorials Editor at the Newswire. He is majoring in Philosophy and Spanish, with minors in Latin American Studies, History and Peace Studies.