Ever since I was little, I thought my blood really ran blue and gold. My house seemed to always be filled on game day unless we had the time to fly to Indiana and cheer on the sidelines. Growing up engulfed in this "Fighting Irish" culture, I was expected to follow in my mom's, aunts', grandparents', and great-parents' footsteps. Notre Dame was my next step, and I had known that since I could see over the heads of screaming people at the stadium. Seventeen years later, it was my turn to apply. Of course, I had finished the Notre Dame application first, but I had applied to other schools just in case. After months of waiting to hear, continuing to research my other schools, I fell out of love with the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame felt right when I was told I was going there, but the large crowds, the football mayhem, and the deeply rooted Catholic ties no longer seemed appealing. I wanted a small liberal art school in a big city, and South Bend Indiana is just about the opposite of that. I felt ashamed, like I was disobeying all those who came before me. Although I continued to claim my love for Notre Dame, it felt like I was trying to trick myself into believing the same phrase I had rehearsed and spit out time and time again, "I have always been an Irish, and I'll always be an Irish." I began to drive myself crazy thinking of all the ways my family could react after telling them I no longer wanted to attend Notre Dame. But acceptances came in, and I needed to make my decision.
I had never felt such pressure to pick anything in my life. My heart beat so hard my temples rattled when the conversation of Notre Dame came up. It was pressure I never felt before because it was no pressure at all. Going to Notre Dame was expected, point blank period. So while I was deciding between colleges, everyone around me had thought I had decided long before the application process even started. Finally, I did what I had to do.
"I don't want to go to Notre Dame." Shaking, I shoveled pasta down my throat so if on the off chance my amily asked me to repeat, I wouldn't even have the ability to. I looked up from my now empty plate, gathering whether they had heard the words come out of my mouth, or if I had just said them inside my head. But my mom took a sip of her water, looked at me and said:
"Okay, I don't think Notre Dame would have been a good choice for you anyway."
That was it. We ate our dinner, cleaned up and went our own ways, just like every other night. I had built up this false notion that I may be disowned if I didn't follow the footsteps of my mother, but to my utter surprise, she knew that I needed to branch out and make my path. My other relatives may not have liked that I didn't choose their Alama Mater, but I spent so long calculating a happy medium for them, I didn't care anymore what they thought because I had finally put myself first. I love that my house may still have a few "Play like a Champion today" signs up, and there may be a few sweatshirts I have in my closet with a shamrock on it, and I dare I say, I might even root for them upcoming football season. But I know I did what I needed to do, and if breaking the status quo of my family lineage was the only way to do that, then that's the price I'll pay.
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