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I’d like to talk about my biggest regret in the hopes that you never make such a mistake in your lifetime.

In high school, I wasn’t the most popular, nor was I a jock. I fell in the awkward, loud, and eclectic crowd, and it’s pretty easy to imagine that not many of my athletically gifted peers found me to be very “cool.” One football player in particular, whom we shall name Samuel for the sake of his identity, became a real pain in my side. Samuel was the anti-thesis of me: athletic, bulky, and aggressive. Throughout our high school career, we consistently tried to get on the other’s nerves. We would try to one-up the other at every chance we could find, and even the teachers noticed the tension between the two of us. It was immature. Like children on the playground, I hated him, he hated me, and we didn’t want anything to do with each other.

The time came in my senior year, however, when I had a sudden epiphany. I looked around at everyone in my high school, and realized that Samuel was the only person with whom I had a negative relationship. It was apparent that I had wasted so much of my time in high school hating someone I barely even knew. So, like an adult, I decided to fix the problem and be the bigger man. It came down to our last day of senior year, and I was determined to apologize for everything I had done to him, and I had hoped he would feel the same way and feel obliged to apologize as well. Fortunately, we had class together on that fateful last day, so I had to make a move.

At the end of that class, the bell rang and the majority of students left, and like a scene in a movie, he was the last person to leave—this was my chance. He was going to walk right by my desk, and I could express myself to him. We could finally end this childish feud. When the time came, however, I froze. He walked past me, and I never spoke with him again. For some reason, I couldn’t find the strength. He never knew my apology.

I left my high school with a red mark: not a bad grade or a detention, but the pain of realizing that I wasted so much of my time with hate. That may seem like a petty regret, but I will never forget it.

Corrie ten Boom, a Christian imprisoned in death camps in WWII, was able to forgive the Nazis, Gandhi could forgive the British, and Jesus, our Savior, could forgive the Romans. I couldn’t even forgive a bully. Since then, the failure to do so, has granted me insight in the realm of forgiveness and love. My regret has fueled the power to love all and forgive as much as possible. There will always be those that we do like or those that will try to beat us down, but we cannot take the easy road and choose to hate them. As human beings, we are all connected. Hate will keep us apart, while love will let us grow together.

This Christmas season do not let negative thoughts keep you from loving all those you meet. I may never get the chance to formally apologize to Samuel, but for the rest of my life, I will do my best to make sure that I do not burn bridges. Instead, I will only build connections of stone.

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 1.13.35 PM Paul is a Marketing and Finance major from Louisville, KY. At Xavier, he has worked with the CFJ through  X-Change, and is also involved in Xavier’s D’Artaganan Capital Fund.  

 Fun Fact: Paul has drunk snake wine.