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Footprints of Uncertainty By Bridgette Favale

I took my first steps as a child when I was one year old and found myself stumbling through the living room of the yellow-painted home in New Jersey where my parents first raised our family. Preparation for the day I would move to college, despite the seventeen years leading up to the transition, failed to provide me with sufficient knowledge of what I should major in. Harnessing various passions—ranging from science, writing, and helping others—made my dreams and future goals feel clouded and unknown.

The little girl that struggled to move on her own two feet set a scene for my life as the image of untouched sand with its first indents evolving out of the reality of her walking in the living room. At the time of Fall 2018, these footprints formed in the beginning of college would represent times of challenge in finding the correct educational path. These figurative marks remained and reappeared as time went on in correspondence with the definitive action that I took to cultivate an independent, experienced, and influential life.

My imprints in the fine sand came to a sudden halt in my first semester of college with my indecisiveness in choosing a major that encompassed both passion and a secure future career. Categorizing my favorite interests into a specific field of study proved difficult for me through lower and higher education, climaxing at the blank space of the Seton Hall college application requiring me to set the major I would follow to a degree at the university. I knew that education was not the right focus for me, but I didn’t know what other passions of mine I should follow.

Inexperienced and unsure Bridgette Rose Favale, seventeen years old embarking on her first semester in college, faced anxiety studying to be a teacher and taking classes that failed to spark an appetite for learning. English, a subject of interest and skill I harnessed since the moment I learned to read and write, reappeared in my brain as a possible answer to my glaring college dilemma. Too many more questions came with the answer to this one—scarce job options, security, and worries about the amount of desire I had to pursue the field.

Periods of struggle require the relieving aid of a source of comfort and knowledge—personally manifested in my Catholic faith and reliance on Jesus Christ’s knowledge and purposeful plans for his people. My first semester of college demanded this vessel of aid to heal the broken footprints of my life choices. The discomfort of life doubt and dependence on God’s will is exhibited in Proverbs 3:5-6 of the Old Testament advising, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Steering away from my original major and following my interest in English required boldness and faith in God’s plans. The anxiety of uncertainty and doubt, still looming and vibrant, faced potential eruption and growth by the challenge of new classes, professors, and lack of time. I chose to lean not on my “own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) and to “submit to Him,” (Proverbs 3:6) acknowledging the limits of my efforts to understand the future and the beginning of God’s control. My trail of footprints, veering in obscure directions and unrecognizable patterns during the fall of my college experience, found placement and a straight path in time for the blooming of colorful flowers and gleaming rays of spring sunshine—and this is how I found the strength to declare English as my permanent major.

The choice of a major for college students is one of the biggest decisions made in the awakening of their young adult lives. It is evidently reasonably, to these pressured students, why choosing a major is tied to various stresses and uncertainties. Advisers, faculty, and even fellow students alleviate the weight placed by these crucial decisions by sharing advice and personal experiences. Prayer and other resources for connecting to God, easily accessible at Seton Hall’s Catholic institution, make seeking answers to the unknown and finalizing life-altering decisions less pressurizing.

Studying English immediately filled my heart with the educational and goal-oriented desires I had been searching for since my years in high school spent questioning a suitable career path. My experiences attending class and completing homework were no longer spent in agony or unease, but enhanced by my appreciation for literature and yearnings to learn. My dreams for the future, after making a necessary major change, are finally becoming clear and attainable—progressing through an internship completed in the summer of 2019 researching and editing for the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2021.

Writings of famed authors, often read in my classes during the week, continuously added themselves to my mental list of all-time favorite pieces of literature. A combination of my love for English and reliance on faith gifted me with a piece of poetry that has remained on that list for years:

“One night I dreamed a dream. / As I was walking along the beach with my Lord. / Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. / For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, / One belonging to me and one to my Lord. / After the last scene of my life flashed before me, / I looked back at the footprints in the sand. / I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, / especially at the very lowest and saddest times, / there was only one set of footprints. / This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it. / “Lord, you said once I decided to follow you, / You’d walk with me all the way. / But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, / there was only one set of footprints. / I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.” / He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you / Never, ever, during your trials and testings. / When you saw only one set of footprints, / It was then that I carried you.”

The bold step I took in declaring myself an English major by the trust of the Lord’s grace straightened my path of internal unease and cleared new trails for successful opportunities. Internships with well-known companies and opportunities to work in publishing firms are just the beginning of my horizons as an English-oriented career follower. Looking back at the imprints of my life indented into the burning sand, I recognize the times of distress that brought me to peace and the footprints that brought me to a current state of order, well-being, and success, that were not just my own, but the ones of the Lord who carried me.

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