Senior Column

May 1st, 2014

In almost every “Ryllie Factor” column I’ve written this year, I’ve ranted about the things in the world that tick me off. My strong opinions and tone have become the foundations of my writing persona, but for my final column, I’d like to explore a different side of “The Ryllie Factor.”


Four years. 128 credits. A terrifying pile of student loans. More academic all-nighters than I’d like to admit to. And what do I have to show for it? A bachelor’s degree (or as I sorrowfully heard it referred to today, “just a bachelor’s degree”) and a few dozen Carroll News articles? I’ll admit, I learned a few things in class – after I learned to never, never, never, ever register for an 8 a.m. (ever), and I learned a little bit more doing a few extracurriculars and internships. But most of what I learned, or at least the thing that is the most important to me, I learned through conversations and interactions with the people on this campus. I’ve been inspired by the dedication to service to others I’ve witnessed, the intellectual capacity of many of my peers and some of the strongest leaders I’ve ever met. But the thing that has completely transformed me, through both talking to people here and personal reflection, is a change in perspective.


Anais Nin said, “We don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.” In other words, perspective is all everything. The way you view the people around you, the planet you live on and most importantly, yourself, is all there is. You can completely change the course of your life just by viewing life in a different perspective.


Perspective is how quickly you forgive a friend for their wrongdoing because you value the friendship more. It’s how you stop comparing yourself to others because you realize you are running a completely different race than them anyway.


Perspective is how you make the decision to move to a new place because you think the world is too big for you not to see as much of it as possible. It’s realizing that the reason people seem to walk all over you is that you let them. It’s stepping back and asking yourself what matters to you, why it matters to you and how your actions are reflecting that.


Unfortunately, perspective does not always get through to us in the most positive ways. Too often, it takes the death of a someone close to remind us how tremendously fragile life actually is. Life’s vulnerability is a depressing concept to some, but for those with a strong sense of perspective, this factor creates an urgency to live more and love more. The moment you comprehend this small but crucial fact, you’re on your way to living a fuller life.


If there’s one thing I’ve learned through the three insufferable philosophy classes I’ve been forced to take in the name of the almighty core curriculum, it’s that there are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to view our existence in this big wide universe of ours. Some of these worldviews are uplifting and preach the idea that life has meaning and there is a greater plan for us. Bleaker outlooks claim we are here by chance and the only meaning our lives have is that which we give it. No one has or probably ever will figure out which of these ideas is correct – a terrifying and frustrating concept. But this gives us the freedom to shape our lives in any way we want, just by changing how we look at things.


Perspective is not a synonym of positivity. While positive thinking has its merits, perspective goes deeper than this. It’s about developing a mindset that makes you confident in yourself and your decisions, because you know how to gauge the things that really matter.


Whether it means taking a walk by yourself to think or going on a late-night drive with a friend to talk things out, perspective can be the thing that keeps you sane throughout your college career, and hopefully after. John Carroll is a special place with special people who genuinely want to listen and help, and the friends you make here can give you an entire perspective overhaul. Because as it goes: If you can change your mind, you can change the world.