For four years I’ve heard about the “Villanova bubble,” and for four years now I’ve never failed to recognize how true the label is every time I go home. It’s like culture shock. While here, I forget that the so-called “real world” isn’t filled with Days of Service, Service Break Trips and Walks for Water.
I forget how exceptional it is that students unite not only to support our regional champion men’s basketball team, but also to organize the world’s largest student-run Special Olympics Fall Festival.
I forget that most people won’t hold a door open for me, especially not when I’m still a good 30 feet away from it. I forget how special it is to be part of such a community.
Every time that I’ve gone home I’ve been consoled by the fact that I’d have Villanova to return to. The next time I leave, however, things will be different. After graduation, I’ll no longer have the comfort of knowing that I can always return to my idealistic sanctuary. After graduation, I won’t be able to pretend that Villanova is the real world.
Each of us here – whether we sang at Mass, played a club sport or just hung out in the company of close friends – has found a niche in which to feel at home in this bubble, but we knew from the moment we arrived at orientation that we were not meant to stay here forever. But what does this mean for us students? As we move on in life, are we supposed to forsake this school’s ideals – community, love, truth and hope – as our time here becomes a memory?
Are we to dismiss them as youthful na’ veté and idealism when we are confronted with a world that does not readily accept them? Are we to cower in the face of negativity and sink into sad, embittered conformity?
The answer is no. No, we were not meant to stay here forever, nor were we meant to forget the values that have been instilled in each of us. There is no denying that Villanova is a bubble of its own, but this is in no way a blemish on its character. Rather, I look at this place as a stronghold of hope and idealism in the midst of a very cynical world.
When each of us – some much sooner than others – has to leave this school, let us not forget the ideals that are so easy to believe in here. Let us not cower away from the forces of cynicism, but rather let us stand tall and full of resolve. Let us embody living and breathing examples of what humanity is capable of – examples of compassion wisdom and hope – and as we shine like beacons over the coast, let us guide others to the light. Though surely some will wish to call us na’ve and idealistic, let us stand strong in the face of such adversity. Instead of being pulled down by their negativity, let us pull them up so they may in turn have the courage to pull others up. Though we will all walk different paths in life, we can all let these values shine through us and transform the world we share. Let us burst open this bubble and show the “real world” the goodness it is capable of.
On a different note, I’d just like to say thank you for reading my writing, whether you’ve read it every week or if this is the first one you’ve made it through. Hopefully this will not be the last time you see my name in print.
Tom Barrett is a senior philosophy major from Colonia, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]