The importance of connection

This op-ed is a senior op-ed for a Newswire staff member.

Even in my fourth and final year at Xavier, I still get questions about why I chose to attend a private Jesuit college in Ohio, eight hours from my hometown in Virginia. Most of the time, I’m not really sure how to answer. I’m not religious, I have no connection to Ohio except for the time I lived in Dayton when I was 2 and I’m not a huge basketball fan, either.

The truth is that after taking two years off between high school and college, I was ready to catch up with my classmates, and I chose one of the first schools to accept me. Looking back on the last four years of my life, I now believe that this random choice was the choice I was always meant to make.

My high school years were a little rough. I began ninth grade moving back to the United States after spending four years living on different military bases in Europe, so I was a little behind where my new classmates were socially. My penchant for wearing oversized Edward Cullen T-shirts and purple chained skinny jeans combined with an introverted attitude earned me few meaningful friendships, so I was determined to change this when I started college. Not only have I made deep, meaningful connections with many people throughout my time at Xavier, I have established friendships that will last me a lifetime.

Lasting friendships are not the only thing that I have gleaned from my time at Xavier. I came in to freshmen year as a business management major, something I had no interest in studying whatsoever. After taking a few business courses, it became clear to me that I needed to switch, so I became an English major. All the writing practice I got in middle school from penning fantastical Twilight-esque tales served me well in turning me into the writer I am today, but the faculty at Xavier played no small role in my growth. I have had the pleasure of being taught by some wonderful English professors for whom I am very grateful.

Although I have enjoyed the majority of my tenure at Xavier, like most people, I have struggled as well. As someone who is very close with her family, spending eight months out of the year away from them was taxing at times. I clearly recall a moment from the second day of Manresa when I called my parents, who were busy taking one last look at Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo, to ask them to pick me up. While this was an embarrassing moment, understanding that I had to integrate into a new community and establish a new support system was one of the best lessons I have ever learned.

By following this lesson, I have made friendships that I will maintain the rest of my life, but I have lost friendships throughout the course of my time at Xavier as well. Moving around every two years for the first 14 years of my life naturally came with the loss of friendships, but it still challenged me nonetheless.

While it’s obviously a huge bummer to break off a friendship, I believe that in losing anything, there is a lesson to be learned. That lesson is to not let this type of adversity derail you. College is a time to grow and to develop skills that will help us succeed in the “real world,” but it is also a time to focus on personal growth. Unnecessarily lingering on the details of a failed friendship or relationship undermines genuine personal growth, so it’s best to leave that drama behind.

When I first started at Xavier, my main objective was to get a degree. I was ready to catch up to the people in my high school graduating class who were already halfway through their college careers. I certainly was not thinking about anything as sappy as personal growth or finding lasting friendships, but that’s what I am leaving with nonetheless.

I am still walking away from Xavier with the usual — crippling student debt and a degree — but I am also taking a new sense of myself. The lessons I have learned about growing, dealing with adversity and leaving drama behind will last me a lifetime.

Kylie Lomelin is a graduating senior. During her time with the Newswire, she has served as a copy editor.