Being and Becoming: Leo Dillinger’s Senior Column
I don’t know what I want to accomplish in writing this, so I’m just going to start ranting and see if I can attain some sense of closure.
These past four years have flown by so quickly that it’s impossible for me to describe how much I’ve changed. Looking back on my first days at Penn State in the Fall of 2010, I feel like I had no sense of identity whatsoever. The world seemed brand new once I started living on my own. Having nobody to tell me what to do or how to live, I felt so free in the absence of responsibility. I followed the herd of freshmen, aimlessly searching in frat house basements and monotonous apartment parties for meaning to my existence. I went to all of my classes but I never really appreciated the significance of the education in front of me. This notion of freedom was just an illusion that I created for myself.
I woke up for the first time in the summer before my sophomore year. It was after a service trip to Guatemala that I finally began to understand a new perspective on life. I discovered the true wonders of art, music, and literature for the first time in indescribable ways. I took an interest in learning from my classes and even had the pleasure of joining Onward State in October of 2011. Most importantly, I found the intrinsic beauty of human experience and the value of sharing these fleeting moments of empathy with others. With these several lessons I learned during college, my sense of self finally began to take form.
As I reflect on who I am right now and who I want to be, there is only one piece of advice I can offer and it comes from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. He writes, “Play the game, but play it in your own way–part of the time at least.” Right now, I don’t know what to do after I graduate, but I have a vision of myself in the future. I feel a path unfolding right in front of me, even though I can hardly see it, and it feels right. Every moment is falling into place with the next and I’m starting to find some clarity in a world that was once clouded by illusion.
I’ve learned that self-discovery and exceeding your potential as a human being is the most satisfying aspect of life. Don’t waste any time on petty day-to-day drama and start breaking out of your comfort zone. The best way to get to know yourself is by doing things you’ve never done before and feeling vulnerable to the winds of change. Sure, I wish I could stay in college forever, but the memories I’ve made throughout my time here and the exciting uncertainty of the future have made my life all the more worthwhile.
Thank you to all my family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances for bringing so much joy into my life.
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About the Author
They’re in our city.
Sam Ficken’s winding football journey has taken him from Indiana to New York with several stops in between. Now, as a Jet, he’s finally settled down in a consistent role.
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