CATHOLIC ON CAMPUS.

We all know that saying that goes something along the lines of “Character is who you are and what you do when no one is watching.”

Bull jive. I don’t agree with it.

Why?

Because I went to college.

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What I’m saying is: I went to college and was submerged in the culture; and the culture speaks pretty loudly against that quote. Almost as loudly as your roommates do at 3am on Friday night.  

College is a 4 year bubble of few responsibilities, no parents, and 8 bars down the block.

And it is just as easy to stop doing what is right under the influence of peers watching, as it is after 4 vodka sodas.

College may be the easiest place to let aspects of your faith slide for the sake of not wanting to be judged by someone. Plus, you don’t have the reassuring presence of your family or lifelong friends to be an encouragement like you may have had before.

Off the top of my head I can think of at least half a dozen situations that will put your faith and your character to the test:

  • No one else prays before their meals in the cafeteria, and if I do then people will think I’m strange.

  • Maybe I should take off my cross when I go to that class. RateMyProfessor.com says the professor is a vocal atheist who absolutely hates organized religion, so my cross is more like crosshairs there.

  • I can’t meet with my group to work on a project Sunday morning because I’m going to mass, but if I say that...then what will they think of me?

  • I can’t even imagine getting on my knees to pray before bed like I did at home, my roommate will be so uncomfortable.

  • The second I tell someone I want to wait for marriage I’ll become “prude” or “that goody two shoes” and how am I supposed to make friends with that label?

  • If I disagree with the professor in my paper I’ll instantly be deemed “closed-minded” and can expect a lower grade... so I should just agree, right?

  • I probably shouldn’t talk about my faith with that guy/girl/group of friends because they don’t talk about those things ever. And I’d rather not be known as “the Jesus freak.”

I faced each one of those situations during my 4 years, some sporadically and some daily. Not to mention countless others. Sometimes I chose to do what was right. A lot of times I didn't.

So let’s bring it back to the quote.

“Character is who you are and what you do when no one is watching.”

In each of those situations, someone is “watching” you. Someone—or a lot of someones, will take notice of you and your actions. And if you let someone's presence sway the choice you make—instead of making the decision based on what is right, then that speaks volumes about your character.

You either let the fact that people are watching be the reason that stops you from doing what is right, or you do what is right regardless of people watching.

That’s why I think the quote is wrong.

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I believe character is who you are and what you choose to do EVEN WHEN everyone is watching, despite what everyone else is doing, and regardless of what other people think about it.

If you change the way you act because of an audience, then that reflects your character. If you stay true your beliefs, even while people are watching, that also reflects your character.

Praying in private says that you practice your faith. Praying in private and in public says that you have faith and it’s not something you are embarrassed of.  

Going to church shows God He is a priority in your life. Going to Church and telling people about it shows Him and everyone else that He is important to you.

Often times, when we change the way we act because people are watching, we forget that God is watching too. We forget that we are choosing something over Him.

We choose avoiding embarrassment over praising Him. We choose making friends, over building our friendship with Him. We choose an A in a class over honoring His teachings. Each time you are put into a situation that tests your faith, ask yourself “what is my price?” What is good enough to put God second, even if only for a moment? What is worth gaining at the price of overlooking Him?

Ask yourself if you have a price that puts God second.

Then act. And show God and the world your character.