Happy New Year! I am currently writing this at the airport over Christmas break, and it is long overdue. Truthfully, this most recent semester kicked my booty. Yet, I knew I had been wanting to write about it for quite some time. This is always the platform I go back to whenever I feel I have learned a whole lot about life and have grown because of it. In the midst of a busy season, it can be really easy to gloss over all the previous challenges and stick to the present. But those challenges might have shaped you into the person you are meant to be. For me, it took a month of reflection, a whole lot of tears, and some space for conversation in order for me to realize how this past semester has been a growing season. Even my extroverted, outgoing self has come to realize how important it is to make time to rest, love one-self, and recognize that resilience is a powerful thing.
First Things First
I empathize with people A TON! While this has been helpful in building connections with people and growing in college, it also ways super heavy on me. College has heightened these feelings of internalization and empathy to the extreme, and it has been difficult at times to fully feel separate or detached from hearing other life experiences. This semester, for some reason, created an environment where I turned heavily to the emotion of empathy. I had a lot of newness, and the use of empathy almost made my own experiences feel weighed down. It should be noted: I totally let this happen. But it weighed heavy on my heart as I reflected on the ways I decided to lean into life conversations in college. Growing from this experience, I now know that I value the way I want to listen to others. I also know boundaries are super important and needed. But I don’t want to look back and place doubt in the same experiences.
Entering into my junior year, I was so STOKED to be following my passions of faith and ministry. I was born and raised Catholic, and for a long time this was all I knew. I loved diving into deep theological conversations because I found it to be so fascinating and complex. Moreover, I knew I wanted to teach religion someday following undergrad. Yet, this semester heightened a lot of underlying emotions.
In my sophomore year, I remember I was taken to a different church outside of the Catholic tradition. It was out of my comfort zone, and felt unfamiliar. Yet, I remember leaving the church feeling so renewed and restored. I called my friend that day, and I was filled with so much joy. I didn’t know I was so content in that moment, and I certainly didn’t attribute it back to the church I went to earlier that day. Following this visit to a different church, I went a couple more times that semester. Looking back, I see how that church felt like home for me.
This most recent semester, I was involved in working with my local catholic church at school. While I loved it, I also felt really detached from my spirituality. I saw God working in so many parts of my life, but the tradition I was apart of did not always make known those small snippets of faith. I remember expressing to a friend how church didn’t feel the same anymore. Immediately, I was filled with such guilt. I felt isolated when I was supposed to feel comforted by my own faith. It was not until a different conversation with a friend where I was reminded that it is okay to lean into making sense of faith. The church I mentioned earlier of another branch of Christianity allowed for me to shine my light onto others, and I think it occurred to me how important this church was in my spiritual growth.
Self-Love & A Whole Lot Of Self-Doubt
Between running on empty and being conflicted about my own faith, I also doubted myself. Through all the good in this most recent semester, I would come home and think I was not doing enough. All my accomplishments were crowded by my own inner thoughts. I could not feel proud of myself, and I felt I was far from where I should be. But I know this is just a season of life. As someone who regularly tries to practice self-care, I know I let this doubt get the best of me. I should have chosen presence over the idea of what “put-together” looks like.
Maybe You Are At This Place Too…
I wanted to write about my semester because I know that I am not alone. The moments I felt super defeated were the moments where I felt called to seek help. While it may not always seem like it, there is always help.
So maybe you are at this place too— where you feel you are just going through the motions and not really taking time for yourself or being kind to yourself. Maybe you feel external pressures to perform or please others or even to appear as “cool”. Maybe you over-plan and over-schedule as a coping mechanism. Maybe you feel deeply for others and your nurture tendencies prevent you from taking care of yourself and your own needs. (These are all the things I felt in the past few months).
I want you to know that you are not alone. I know the valleys might feel lonely and it might feel like people do not understand your story— and this is all valid. Yet, I challenge you to let people in. Struggles happen. Life happens. Things get hard. Life is not always fair. And, you will come out of this valley. You will find the light. You are so loved. You matter. You are worthy of so much.
Growth is a beautiful thing, and I know that getting there is not always the most enjoyable part of the journey. But you will get there. Your story matters.
I am always here for y’all. Never hesitate to reach out. Happy 2019! I hope to write more in the future!