As Boston College students, it can be tempting to hide our true selves. Embracing our individuality can help us to understand ourselves and experience the world around us as genuinely as possible. Authentic Eagles is a series that gives a voice to the people who have experienced firsthand the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of being one’s authentic self at BC. We hope that readers are inspired to have conversations and reflections of their own, working towards being more authentic individuals.
Reba Hatcher, CSOM '16
When I’m wrong, it doesn’t feel like anything.
In her TED talk about the nature of being wrong, author Kathryn Schulz says being wrong is a lot like being right until the point of realization when the feelings associated with being wrong arise. I never believed any of the hype regarding college being a life-changing four years. I thought I would hopefully do well academically, make some friends, get invited to parties, graduate with a job and generally enjoy BC.
My first semester at BC looked a lot like I planned it out to be as I adjusted to the academic and social climate. Meanwhile at home, my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease began developing. On the last night of finals, my mom told me she broke her hip and would be having surgery over Christmas break. Neither were ideal situations since I was the only capable one left in my household, but I thought, “this too shall pass.” I had no idea that the day before classes started, I would be sitting in the Newton Campus parking lot in freezing weather with only sweatpants and a t-shirt on my body, hysterically crying after the sudden news of my mother’s death.
I tend to have a plan for every situation, and this one wasn’t any different. I called my best friend Sophie, and in what seemed like a flash, she and her mother made a forty-minute drive from her school to help put my pieces together, at least for the moment. I immediately emailed my professors and told them the circumstance. After I handed the Greyhound bus driver my ticket to New York, found a seat, and placed my headphones on my head, I received a call from my professor. I don’t remember much else from our hour long conversation except for her offer to drive me four hours home the night before spring semester began if the bus hadn’t worked out - an offer that signaled Boston College would be a place worth returning back to after I spent some time at home. The night I got back from New York City, my roommate had colorful flowers and a card waiting for me. I went to main campus later that evening for a Women in Business event and was greeted by the friendly faces of all of the board members, a cake and many hugs. I received countless emails, cards, offers for coffees and crying sessions from people in this community that I had known less than six months.
Towards the end of my very difficult semester, I applied to the National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference (NJSLC) and Summer Student Admission Program (SAP). That summer I was able to spend each and every day greeting prospective students, educating them about BC, and displaying the power of a cura personalis education. I decided to add my freshman year story to the end of my tour and to always remind them to choose a school based on a facts, but also to let their hearts choose the place that has people that will develop and cherish them the most. When I came back for the school year, I was able to begin working for the NJSLC and planning specifically for the educational and advising aspect of the retreat.
The BC NJSLC team had decided upon the theme of the Fr. Arrupe poem that ends with, “fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” Our task was how to best display Boston College and inculcate the idea of being the ‘first to love’. A lot of the conversations I have had with prospective students through SAP and NJSLC committee members and attendees have taught me that people truly want to be amongst those with whom they enjoy the present moment who they are able to love and be loved by — the fundamental premise of the Kairos retreat.
In my Kairos group we spent a lot of time discussing whether “things happen for a reason.” I definitely do not believe that God is a harmful being — in fact, I believe Him to be the opposite. My mom did not die for a reason, and I refuse to be persuaded otherwise. However, I strongly believe there is purpose that can be found in every circumstance, even if I couldn’t see it while I was freezing and crying in the Duchesne parking lot. I thought I was incapable of living without my loudest cheerleader, my most comforting cuddle, my daily phone calls to chat about the insignificant. I firmly believed I could not find a love that would fill my heart in the same way. I was wrong.
Sophie, my Newton Center family and each and every person that has touched my life at Boston College have been my safety net, my encouragement, my loved ones. And the interesting fact about love is that it can change forms, but it never truly goes away. Thanks mom for one last lesson.