The process of discovering and living into our authentic selves is one that takes us both forward to learning new things and also backwards into re-claiming those things that have been lost. Often as children we have a better sense of who we truly are and then life, parents, schools, and other people, without malice or meaning to, often lead us to distrusting these early truths. "The Logical Song" by Supertramp captures this perfectly:
Yet sometimes in the journey, we discover something we knew, something from our past that we realize at some point we let go of, we forgot some essential piece of ourselves and now we are able to reclaim it anew. Somehow we break through being "logical, sensible and reasonable" to remember something we knew to be essentially true for us.
For me a realization of something left behind occurred this week although in reality I had been re-claiming it for awhile and on some level I never forgot. I had the deep pleasure of taking a friend of mine and her children to Georgetown University for an introductory session and tour. Her son is considering Georgetown and it is the first time I was able to share my love of Georgetown with someone I care about who is considering going there. As a bonus, my daughter is now considering GU. I had never taken the introductory session or tour. My parents and I didn't do the visiting colleges trip before I applied to college. I had, however, seen Georgetown with a friend of my parents who was an active alum and whose children had all attended Georgetown. My introduction was through friends of my family.
I learned a lot on the tour, things that will be helpful as I continue the joy of interviewing applicants as part of the Alumni Admissions Program. What I realized on the tour was how deeply Georgetown is a part of my identity - a core part of who I am. I remembered how much I had wanted to go there, that Georgetown was my first choice and how right that choice felt when I finally got in my sophomore year as a transfer student. I did not get accepted to Georgetown for my freshman year of college so I went to another Jesuit school - Marquette University - but I never lost site of the goal of getting to Georgetown. My years at Georgetown were transformative ones. Some of my closest friendships are those I made at Georgetown. Intuitively I knew at 13 years old, when I first toured Georgetown, that this was where I not just wanted to go but that I was called to go and even though the path to get there was not smooth, I never gave up on that call.
Yet somewhere along the way I had forgotten. For many years I was not involved, I didn't contact alum for networking. I have never joined an alumni club although I did attend a couple of events in San Francisco. Somehow I had an image of my current self not matching with the self that loved and went to Georgetown. It is not really important why, the point is that in the journey to figure out who I am, mostly by trying on other identities and looking to outside sources, I had lost a key learning from my past.
Being back on the campus, brought it back ... the love of place, my own tenacity when I feel called to something and even something about reclaiming a sense of pride in my academic abilities. There was just a moment where I stopped and looked around and remembered again how much I love this place and continue to love it. Over the years I have become more active. For the last 8 years I have been an alumni interviewer - which I love doing! For my current job search I have been actively using the network and my coach is a Georgetown alum who graduated only a year or so behind me. I continue to keep in touch with my friends. When we see each other we pick up where we left off. I am amazed at all the work they do in the world - from serving in the foreign service, to other branches of government, to non-profit work, to academics and the for-profit corporate world. Their work lives are as diverse and wonderful as they each are.
Sometimes our intuition guides us while we don't even know it. How could my 13 year old self know that Georgetown was absolutely the right place for me? I am so grateful she did. I am so grateful I did not let go of that dream. I am so grateful that now so many years later I can affirm the importance of Georgetown in my life and in shaping who I am. It is a symbol of listening for the call and being faithful to that call once heard, a symbol of deep connection across space and time and a reminder to believe in myself.
I want to seek more ways to connect with my Georgetown roots. Maybe I will take the plunge and start that alumni group here in Williamsburg/Hampton Roads. I know this, I will never forget that Georgetown is part of my authentic self - the self I want to continue to discover, shape and live out in all areas of my life.
Georgetown states that one of the goals of its Jesuit education is prepare women and men for service to the world! Yes, that is my goal, to live my life in service to the world!
Sometimes in the road to discovering our authentic selves, we need to go back and reclaim what had been left behind. Thank you Georgetown for once again shaping me into the person I am meant to be!
What hidden gems might be in your past that need to be remembered and reclaimed?
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