Probably most Franciscan students have either said or heard that what makes our university unique is the community. When we visited Franciscan, people reached out to us, and during freshman orientation our heads were swimming with names and faces, some of which went in one ear and out the other.
What about once we’ve found our friends and the groups we enjoy being with? Do we keep reaching out in hopes of finding new friends and, if not that, of making others feel noticed?
One of the things I have become aware of recently more than ever is that every day we are given the opportunity to keep meeting new people and become more united as a community, and yet every day we continue to make decisions that contradict our desires for that solid community.
We stop greeting everyone we know (especially those people we met freshman year) because maybe they won’t remember us, maybe they’re “too cool” for us, maybe we’re “too cool” for them or maybe we’re just preoccupied with our friends or our thoughts.
The crucial point here is that we all feel that way. We all have that awkward point of eye contact too far away, and then comes the decision. Do you acknowledge the person or not? Do you greet them or just smile? Do you say anything?
Everyone desires to be noticed. But when we’re caught up in our own self-consciousness, we aren’t free to help others feel that way. There is a wall between us and others of our own fear to stand out, to be too excited to see that person when maybe they won’t be excited to see us, maybe they won’t even remember us at all.
It’s a choice, one that we make over and over again with every person we encounter. Are we confident enough in ourselves to help others gain the confidence that comes from being noticed and appreciated? Are we willing to come into contact with new people who might become close friends, or are we content to remain where we’re comfortable and safe? Do we want to be challenged by new acquaintances?
As a whole, our society is failing at helping people to be known. You never know who might need your smile or your greeting, and it might even be you who needs it from someone else. That acknowledgement could be the difference for someone’s eternal destiny.
Are we willing to break down the wall of our own self-consciousness to help others be known? A little awkwardness ought to be worth eternity.