By: Matthew Tomasulo
The summation of my last four years is best described as the pursuit of a manic overachiever hellbent on the American dream to have it a little bit better than my parents ever had it. I worked hard in high school and in college not because I was drawn to the subjects, but because I felt compelled for reasons at the time that were not entirely clear. I just knew I had to succeed academically, to do my best at being exceptional.
In short, we may not be exceptional right now, but we are seldom so without an acute sense of pressure to be so. Unfortunately, I had no Virgil to guide me through the inferno of college and I fear that I may have committed many errors and retain regrets. It is my hope that those who read this may learn from it and use it as a guide to better themselves.
There are several accolades I have received in my time at Canisius, such as recognition within DiGamma, Beta Gamma Sigma, and Alpha Sigma Nu. When I learned that I had been recognized for these honor societies there were 15 seconds of pure elation and euphoria to realize that my hard work was counting towards something, that it mattered. However, there is always a 16th second and on that 16th second I was left to question if that was it?
As a result, I worked towards the next goal and the next thinking that each would bring me greater satisfaction all the while being cognizant of the lurking feeling that something was amiss. The achievement I had worked hard towards was not a panacea, a cure-all to the ills of finding meaning and purpose within life.
What I have come to know is that the pursuit of achievement holds no meaning within itself without a clear purpose that you embody to the core. Success is not solely a factor of Protestant work ethic. There is a level of self care due to yourself that encompasses sound sleep, a good diet, exercise, making time for family, finding passions and prioritizing the most important relationships in your life. Learning to live — not getting slack nor belying oneself is something rarer and more remarkable than any external award or recognition that others can give.
This is something I have truly come to understand about myself, the world, and it is something I hope others recognize. Caring deeply for yourself is one of the hardest things you can do. Therefore, herald yourself as your highest virtue because both knowing and loving yourself is where you may find the greatest happiness.
Lastly, always be learning. Do not waste time on trivialities that you know cannot lead you towards a better future. Stop scrolling mindlessly through social media. Put more eloquently, “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep.
I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
-Henry David Thoreau