Reconnecting your values
I was born and raised Roman Catholic. Now, this might mean something to some of you and nothing to others, so I will do my best to explain its role in my story.
This past week was the most holy week of the Church calendar for Catholics. It was when we recognized that Jesus Christ died for our sins. It is also a great time to reflect, go to confession and prepare for arguably the best holiday of all in the Church: Easter.
These past couple of weeks at school had not exactly been the best for me. I was overextending myself in every possible venue and was slowly becoming both physically and mentally drained from everything that I was involved in. There was barely a day when I didn’t have a meeting to attend, a crisis to fix and thousands of words to write. This might sound hypocritical as I am someone who adores being busy. I thrive off of having a full schedule where relaxation is like a distant memory. Writing is also my future career, so why should I be complaining about having to do it?
Still, everyone, despite their interests, must have boundaries. I wasn’t setting aside the time for the oh-so-needed college student nap or even taking a moment to breathe in my daily routine.
And this is where Catholicism is brought back in. I knew that last week would be a chance for me to slow down, to step away from Quinnipiac and the things I love and to focus on myself and finally bring peace to my hectic lifestyle that was no doubt my fault. When my dad drove down on Thursday to pick me up, I was more excited than ever to leave this place I call my home-away-from-home. That night we would be going to a mass where I knew that my weekend of relaxation and spiritual rejuvenation would begin.
As we made our way back up north to the very top right-hand corner of New York state, my dad and I found a place to have Holy Thursday mass. Back in the mountains and forests of upstate New York, I momentarily forgot about all my obligations that lay behind me in Connecticut. I was fully ready to focus on something that had always been such a big part of my life.
The church we found was only a mere mile or two off the highway and was absolutely gorgeous. It was made of stone and resembled every etch of the Adirondacks that I grew up with. Millennial me couldn’t help but pull out my iPhone and snap a picture, wanting to remember the beauty of the church for longer than this night would allow me to.
However, when we got inside the church, something felt different. Holy Thursday is the day in the year where Catholics remember Jesus being betrayed by one of his disciples and ultimately condemned to death. To say the least, it is a somber night. Not quite as powerful as the following Good Friday would be, but enough to make a difference in your heart. Yet as my dad and I entered the church, there seemed to be a celebration going on rather than a solemn remembrance.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a happy church and especially one that is filled to the brim like this one was, but something felt slightly off when no one bothered to keep their voice at a low and respectful level, given the circumstance of the day. I could barely hear myself think and didn’t even have to worry about keeping my current cough muffled like I normally would have, because no one could even hear it above the constant conversations.
Something was most certainly not right. I turned my head slightly to look behind me and saw both a mother and her daughter, who looked to be around my age, with their phones out. The daughter double-tapped on her screen, her facial expression going into immediate duck-face mode, giving me the clear tell sign that she was Snapchatting, which is all well good and fun, but right in the middle of church just seemed like inappropriate timing. Similarly, I saw another girl walk in with running shoes and black leggings with the word PINK repeated along the side. Now, I shouldn’t be one to judge, by any means. The Sunday prior I came to church in cuffed jeans and my standard black flip-flops, a combination of rushed for time and laziness that resulted in not exactly dressing the way I should have.
However, maybe my little Holy Thursday experience is a symbol for all of us, despite our religious beliefs and thoughts on leggings with the word PINK on them. It had seemed to me that the people in the church had completely forgotten about what the meaning of the day was, and I realized, in a way, that so had I. I spent so much of my time judging everyone else around me, that I forgot to focus in on why I was there in the first place.
We all have core beliefs, whether they may be related to a deity, deities or to just the general notion of happiness, kindness and love for all. However, how often do we stick to these beliefs and rather get sidetracked with everything else that our lives seem constantly consumed by?
We have schoolwork, sure, but then there’s extracurricular activities, having a social life, roommate drama, eating three meals a day, exercising, reminding your parents that you’re still alive and so on and so forth. And this doesn’t even begin to break the surface of societal pressures. But I almost beg the question of whether it is society that is giving us these pressures, or if it’s ourselves that are truly making monsters out of them.
I, for one thing, know that it is hard as heck to say no to people. I love doing everything and anything, so much so that it becomes a poison for me and was practically begging to come home for Easter weekend. In 2017, we have been dubbed as superb multi-taskers, glorifying the ability to do a trillion things at once. Yet, I petition that we start praising those that can do one thing particularly well. There’s a battle that we play with ourselves on who can do more things better, but the “more” has started to outweigh the “better,” and it is at this point that we need to slow down and remember what is truly at the core of ourselves.
For me, it’s loving God and others with every part of my being, but this is not easy, and I’ve lost part of what makes me, well, me as I try to stuff my life with everything possible that I believe will find me true happiness.
This notion of true happiness is a quest we are all on. Some of you may have found it, and I applaud that and wish to know everything about how you got there, but I reckon that most of us are in that process of discovery, which can be new and exciting, but also troublesome. Maybe it’s as simple as finding what lies closest in our hearts and working from the inside out. Within this we also need to keep in mind those moments of solace, when our lives our stripped from the worries of life, at least for the time being.
Whether your answer to all of this will be in a well-deserved weekend in your hometown, a trip up the Sleeping Giant or even a simple call from your best friend, don’t think that it ends there. Happiness and finding time for what really matters to you is a lifelong battle, and even if you think it will be easier to surrender to the calls of doing more than necessary and societal pressures, know that in the end, your body, mind and spirit will thank you for a fight that is worth every moment.