Growing up, I was prodded in two directions. One set of grandparents were Hindu, the other Baptist. But since my parents weren’t religious, neither was I. I never gave it a second thought, I just never was. I announced I was an atheist when I was still in elementary school and just went on with my day. But for months, I would say my prayers every night in the hope that someone was listening to me.
When I went off to college, I was suddenly surrounded by people of faith, people who prayed every night, every time they did something. And though no one said it, it was weird to me that I didn’t. I’d grappled with the idea of God for a few years, but growing up in a non-religious family and being incredibly shy meant I didn’t know who to ask or where to go. To be honest, I wouldn’t know what to ask. But there was this feeling that I was missing out. Even though I told myself it was silly, I continued searching for the religion that I did not have.
So I started researching. I read the Bible, the Torah, the Qur’an. I had long talks with my sister about religion. She isn’t religious either, though, and I couldn’t seem to find someone who was going through what I was. I attended weekly prayer, yet felt like a fraud because I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel. And underneath it all was this search for a place to fit in. I read stories of people feeling connected to God, of knowing that He was there. And I just didn’t know what to do. I saw people around me, so secure in their faith, and it made me wonder how they did it. They had this peace; they seemed to know what they wanted and were so sure in what they believed in.
College is a weird time. It’s the first time most people are off on their own. I entered college at 17, almost immediately after graduating high school, and was suddenly in this new environment. You have to decide for yourself what kind of person you want to be. For a lot of people, that means you’re able to question what you did before. Maybe what you believed in, you only did because you were told to. Some people plunge even further into their faith, holding on to and redefining what they believed before. Other people start to drift, realize they aren’t being pushed to go to Sunday school, and instead sleep in. Still other people change their minds entirely, from one religion to another, or choose something new to believe in.
It’s been a long, sometimes odd, bumpy road searching for faith. Something I finally realized, though, was what faith meant to me. It means trusting in situations out of my control. It means believing in the impossible. Some days I can, and some days I can’t. And though I don’t know if I’ve “found religion,” I take comfort in it.