From age five to thirteen, kindergarten to eighth grade, I went to a Catholic private school. Now that I'm in my second year of college, my faith has been a very big part of my life and a huge driver of what my personal morals are and the reason why sticking to them is so important for me today.
Like most other religions, there are special times throughout the year that calls us to do things in the reflection of our religion and ourselves. In the Catholic faith, we have something called Lent. This period represents the 40 days and 40 nights before Easter Sunday, the day we believe Jesus resurrects into Heaven. These 40 days are meant as a period of self-reflection and a time for us to get closer with God by being open and asking him to really be by our sides in our time of need. A tradition during this Lenten time is to give up something for these 40 days. Although this doesn't even compare, our sacrifice is supposed to represent all of the sacrifices Jesus made for us during this time so that we may be able to live with God in Heaven as well. But, in reality, this not only represents our faith but it represents us trying to just become better people.
The common story that you hear this season when people are trying to figure out what they're going to give up is chocolate chip cookies or sweets. But, think about it: how often do you each chocolate chip cookies? Every day or is it really every two weeks? Are you really giving them up to be a better person and sacrifice something that has been giving you short-term pleasure but not long-term benefits or are you just "giving it up" because it's easy? These are the key questions to ask yourself when trying to decide on what to give up.
I think that taking the time to just take a break from something can be beneficial to everyone, whether or not you're religious. To do this, I suggest first finding a quiet place, sitting down, closing your eyes, taking some deep breaths, and having an open mind. Try not to come in with a preconceived idea of what you're going to give up. Then really take the time to sincerely revisit who or what kind of person you want to be in life, reflect on how you have been acting lately, and assess your strengths and weaknesses.
Once you've done that, acknowledge those weaknesses and think about what you can do to turn those strengths into weaknesses and what is holding you back from being that person you want to be. After you've established that, then there you go. You have figured out what truly needs to be done. I'll be honest, it'll be hard, but if you take it day by day and always keep your end goal in mind, your sacrifice will pay off and in the end, you'll feel like a whole new person.
Personally, I sat down and reflected on how I've been living my life since the beginning of the new year. Coming into 2019, the word I wanted to live by was "thrive." I wanted to thrive in my sport, thrive in building relationships with my friends, thrive in academics, thrive in looking and acting more mature. After my honest assessment, I was not thriving in everything I wanted to. Of course, it was ok that I didn't have everything in order but it was not ok that the reason that I didn't have my stuff in order was because of things I could control. The problem was that I was putting off more important things to spend more time doing things like binge-watching this new Korean romantic comedy or scrolling through my feed which gave me that short term enjoyment that is so tempting to have but is so detrimental in the long term. So, this year I chose to give up social media (Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter) and Netflix for Lent.
It's been a couple of days, and I'll admit, it's tough. For many of us, sending Snapchat streaks to our friends and refreshing our Insta feeds have become a daily routine. My hope is that after this, I'll have transformed into the fully productive student, close friend, and a more self-aware person that I aspire to be.
I hope that you are able to go on this journey too, whether you're religious or not, and that you're able to take it seriously. If you do decide to embark on this journey, I hope you find strength in times of struggle and feel a great sense of joy and accomplishment when you do get to the finish line. So, I wish you good luck and just remember, if it ever gets hard, just remind yourself of your "why."