John-Paul Heil, Forum Editor
On behalf of The Mountain Echo, let me be the first (or second or third or five-hundredth) person to welcome you, our ambiguously defined, second-person plural, and ever-faithful readership, to (or back to) Mount St. Mary’s. As you may or may not have noticed, summer has ended and a new chapter of 2014 has begun, which I’m sure holds many adventures, friends, and surprises for all of us!
But you’ve heard all that before, so let’s just skip right over that and get right down to the heart of the matter. Yes, this is a new beginning, for every one of us, from freshmen to seniors, but new beginnings are, frankly, scary, in many different ways. Freshmen have to worry about adjusting to a totally new environment and making friends, sophomores have just come down from the “social high” of freshmen year and have to start thinking about the direction their college careers are going in, juniors have to begin contemplating life after school, and seniors (myself included) have to worry about the great unknown of the “Real World.”
These challenges are distinct, varied, and far-reaching: no matter what year students are in, they will be making decisions here that will affect the rest of their lives. It’s easy to let the fears of the future, of the unknown, of making the wrong choices overwhelm you; believe me, I know. Fear is one of the most dangerous poisons of all: not only does it paralyze all those who succumb to it, but those who let fear overtake them will never really be able to experience life in the fullest, to take the chances that life (and God) present before us throughout our lives. So I urge you, young or old, optimistic freshmen or cynical senior, to start this new year with a clean slate, free from the fears that may have held you back in the past.
But overcoming fears is easier said than done–how can we push ourselves to take advantage of this new year in spite of the fears we may have? There are several different ways to do this. The first, and most effective way (at least in my own experience), is prayer. Not only does prayer give us the opportunity for an unparalleled private dialogue with God Himself, but prayer allows us a way to surrender our fears to God and to ask for courage from Him. Still, not everyone is the “praying type” (although I would encourage you to at least give it a try–there’s never a reason not to pray); another way to overcome fear is by finding encouraging friends. The people we surround ourselves with have a tendency to rub off on us, so if we surround ourselves with friends that really support us, our fears will slowly fade away.
New beginnings can be a source of fear, yes, but they are moreso a source of great hope. We have all been blessed with an unparalleled chance to obtain a higher education in a small and tight-knit community filled with almost-endless opportunities and organization aimed at making both our campus and the world around us a better place to live. I have great hope for all of us here at the Mount as we start this new year, and I am certain that my hope is justified.