Bringing Meaning to Life

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Bringing Meaning to Life

(Courtesy of Ieva Astrauskaitè)

(Courtesy of Ieva Astrauskaitè)

(Courtesy of Ieva Astrauskaitè)

(Courtesy of Ieva Astrauskaitè)

Bojeung Leung

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It’s a strange thing to write this senior From the Desk as it seems just yesterday when I had my first experience with the Ram. Our now-editor-in-chief and then-assistant news editor Aislinn and I had a Texts & Contexts class together, where she asked for a statement about the Faculty Senate’s vote of no confidence in McShane. I can’t remember if she ran my quotes, but what I do remember was the senior girl in the class with us who got on my case when I said that I didn’t really care about what happens in the school and that I didn’t read the Ram.

Honestly, it was and still is hard to care about this school, because Fordham can be an incredibly isolating and restrictive place. I see this in the treatment of commuter students and how few clubs take them into account in planning their meeting times, in the admission policies, which have brought a disproportionately low black student population of 4.4% of the undergraduate body, and in how long it takes to enact policy change and actively support marginalized students. All this helps contribute to many Fordham students’ habit of complaining about this school, saying things like, “The school doesn’t listen and it doesn’t really care, so how can one look at the long list of wrongs at this school and even know where to begin any change?”

So we start to get apathetic — the more you know about all that’s wrong, the less you feel about it. It is not that you don’t care. Maybe it’s that you care too much, to the point where you can’t even get any work done. You can get nothing done for yourself, or others, for that matter, because you are so inundated with the wave of problems that you get burned out. Not only this school, but life itself tells you — told me — that in order to stay sane you have to shut yourself off and be small. Just keep on “dealing with” this whole barrage of things that are wrong and follow whatever routine you have. Keep at whatever you are comfortable in, whatever doesn’t push at the system too hard, or else there are negative repercussions.

You get the sense that what you want to fix can’t be fixed, that as much as you try to care about something, it doesn’t matter anyway because you can’t actually solve the problem. You are left with very little energy for big change, and maybe find yourself angry over small things because they are in your immediate purview and control. All of the stress and anxiety contributes to a feeling of loneliness, but it’s not that you’re actually alone. Rather, you feel like you don’t share anything meaningful with anyone.

So we come back to me getting asked by some short blonde girl about whether I feel concerned for the future of Fordham at a time when I could not care less about anything, just weeks after losing my best friend in a freak accident. To be honest, I probably would not have responded to Aislinn’s questions in class if that senior didn’t choose to badger us into caring. Of course, I did it because I really wanted to help on some level, and not just because I wanted to show that senior that she was wrong and I could actually care about something. I was metaphorically slapped in the face by this senior who told me that having a dream, having something to work for, is what brings meaning to life — that it is not all about having more or doing more, but that having true happiness comes in the form of passion for even just one thing.

We’ve been conditioned to not care and not have any dreams. Why? Because having a dream or passion would stir the pot. If we speak about what we want out of life and how things are wrong, it’s a threat to what keeps us in check. And it is super easy to keep us in a despondent state of mind when we’re led to believe that we have no agency and no voice. But that’s a big fat lie. It wasn’t until I faced myself and looked at how I constantly felt used and hopeless that I realized that I didn’t want that to continue along with that lie. I needed the best of me, and that wasn’t happening because I was so wrapped up in a mind telling me that I didn’t deserve better. My answer came when I stepped away from that voice and screamed what I wanted my life to be.