"Be who you were meant to be and you will set the world on fire."-St Catherine of Siena
Have you ever experienced something that made you look at life in a new way? Where you examined your life and your eyes were opened to the fact that something in your life needs to change? Well, SEEK 2019 has had this impact on my life. It has made me realize that something indeed must change in my life.
What is SEEK2019 you might ask. Well, let me tell you. SEEK is a five-day long retreat where college students from all over the U.S, and many even from other countries come together to experience the Lord in a new way. Many are Catholics who are super into their faith, while others come seeking to discover what the truth is.
All come seeking more than what this world provides for us. The world offers us pleasures and comforts of this life, but God offers the opportunity to spend eternity with him in paradise. Eternity is far longer than the time here on earth, and between you and me, sounds like a much better deal than the one the world gives us.
Imagine 17,000 young people gathering together because they want more than what the world has to offer, and you'll get a glimpse of what seek was like. So, what was the impact it had on my life? Well, as most young people, I had my struggles going into the retreat. Between the battle I fight with anxiety and depression, work being draining, and the financial stress of college, life just felt like it was piling higher than I could see.
Going into the week I felt like I was able to get away from my struggles and learn what it truly means to have peace and a stronger relationship with the Lord again. Coming to college, I often had found myself too busy for prayer, confession, daily Mass, adoration. I really found myself using excuses for why I wasn't spending much time with God. Sure I didn't lose my faith by going to college, but I sure didn't do a great job at taking care of it.
Going to a few Catholics On Campus events and showing up to Sunday Mass, isn't really much of a faith life. What it is, is keeping up a face of having a faith life. During the week I was at SEEK, through the influence of the speakers, people I encountered and the moments I spent in deep prayer, God showed me that I still had the ability to change the mess of a life I had.
That I needed to come back to Him. He reminded me of His great and unconditional love for me which is greater than any amount of love a human person could give me. He reminded me that I am not alone. That I am more than the sum of my problems.
He also showed me that I am apart of some bigger plan and that He does not want the world to go on without me. That I can make a difference in the world if I do my little part. My eyes were opened to the fact that I need to be who God made me to be. St. Catherine of Siena once said, "Be who you were meant to be and you will set the world on fire." There is only one you in the world, make it count.
We end up dedicating a huge portion of our own lives into most of the classes we take and in a sense the classes end up assembling our existence.
Life is all about moving on and always keeping your blinkers on. We as humans should always be immune to changes of any type. Changes can be either positive or negative depending on the situation. This week is the last week of classes before finals start and I'm starting to find myself feeling bittersweet about drifting apart from my classes. I always find myself enjoying most of my classes (except one or two sometimes).
The few months that we spend in a semester learning about a totally innovative topic becomes such a constant part of our lives. Starting with attending lectures, listening to professors and fellow classmates talk, preparing for exams (which are not everyone's jam), writing essays, etc. end up becoming the social norm for us. Not having to attend these same classes that we have included as part of our everyday routine leaves me with subtle clouds of nostalgia. As a matter of fact, I'm still trying to digest the bittersweet truth of having to move on from my current courses and having to prepare for the next semester. We end up dedicating a huge portion of our own lives into most of the classes we take and in a sense, the classes end up assembling our existence.
Change is inevitable and life is geared towards the future. The moments that we spend working or performing something that we ardently love and care about are really hard to forget at times. For instance, learning about advanced reporting techniques in my journalism class while hearing true and emotional stories about fellow classmates is undoubtedly unforgettable.
One of the most valuable lessons I've learned from my professor this semester is to always have empathy for others. Without empathy, we will never become a magnanimous human being. Indeed, empathy enables us to connect with others on a more personal level along with forming a close-knit bond with the world. Before becoming notable for your work, it is of utmost importance that you first become a better human being. In reality, our primary identity is derived from the person that we are and then our secondary identity arises based on our potential career. Moreover, the past should be something to reminisce during your free time and be the roadmap towards your future. You should plan on learning from it without letting it consume your present and future.
As I'm writing, a myriad of memories and wisdom gained from my professors and classmates are ringing through my heart and mind. I'm unable to come to terms with the idea of not having classes next week because I have wholeheartedly dedicated myself to the active process of learning. But, I strongly hope that time is the best healer of pain and that once I embrace my new classes next semester, I'll start feeling much more relaxed and enthusiastic. Sometimes, it is worthwhile to remain in a class only for a brief period of time because the freshness will always remain intact on your mind. In other words, the less time you experience something, the more impactful that experience will end up becoming!
Be your best self and strive for the life you deserve. You only get to live it once, make sure you spend each day doing something you love.
I've struggled with my confidence both in myself and in the way I look since I was old enough to care about what other people might think of me.
It took me a long time to figure out where I fit best and what felt right for me to be doing. I always second guessed myself and got in my own head before anybody else ever could. I was sabotaging myself without even knowing what I was doing, stunting any kind of growth I could've accomplished because I let my own thoughts about myself get in the way. It felt like I was stumbling around in the dark because I put my fears of what other people thought of me in front of thoughts of myself.
For years I fell into the same routine, never comfortable with myself or where I was at in my life. That is until I finally decided that I was done. I was done caring about how other people saw me or what they thought, done second guessing myself, and done holding myself back from what I wanted because I wasn't "sure." So to all those people struggling with themselves, this ones for you.
We all have days where we don't feel our best, don't let one off-day hold you back.
The journey to self-acceptance and self-love is filled with bumps and dips. Don't let these bad days bring you down all week. Take them in stride, process what they mean for you and work on a way to find a solution. All you have to do is try. The day you start trying to see the positives instead of nit-picking the negatives is the day you start to move forward instead of staying stuck in the same spot.
Everybody on this Earth is different, you will never be just like somebody else and you shouldn't want to be.
There is a reason that you're not like everybody else, you're supposed to be an individual, you're supposed to be YOU. Comparing yourself to others is only going to induce negativity within yourself and it's pointless. There is a reason you have the strengths and weaknesses that you have, focus on those. Build your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Take control, you are able to make yourself into who you want to be, so stop wasting time thinking about what everybody else has that you don't and start working on you.
There is no "normal." DON'T try to fit into one of society's very limited molds. Make your own and be the you that you want to be.
You'll never be happy trying to fit into somebody else's place in the world. The day you were born, there was a spot made for you and you gotta do what you want with that spot instead of trying to fit into somebody else's. Today's society makes you feel like you need to be X, Y, and Z to fit in. Well "society" is wrong and you don't need to be anything but yourself to find your niche.
Plus societies version of the ideal person is not really a person at all, it's something thought up by somebody who was unhappy with themselves and wanted to spread that unhappiness to others and, unfortunately, it worked. Don't let it work on you.
Nothing will ever be a "sure thing," the universe changes around us constantly. Trust your gut and take the leap toward something you want or you will never have it.
Nobody has ever achieved greatness by sitting and waiting for good things to happen to them. You have to grasp onto the things you want and follow the road that takes you to where you want to be. Put forth the effort needed to pursue that dream, take a deep breath, and go for it. The worst thing that can happen is you don't quite achieve it this time and you've gotta try again. It's not the end of the world, it never is. Pick yourself up, correct your mistakes and do it again until you get it right.
Stop caring about what other people think.
You need to do what's best for you, screw anybody else who doesn't think so. I know every mom ever has tried to get this into the minds of their kids all over the world, my mom still preaches it every second of every day. I heard it millions of times growing up and it still took me too long to realize that she was right. It's hard not to let your mind wander to what other people might be thinking and whether their thoughts might be about you.
It's hard to try to ignore the fear of disapproval when somebody looks your way. It's hard to push down the self-doubt that creeps in and starts to chip away at the self-love you've worked so hard to build up. I get it, it sucks. But again, you have to try. Other people's thoughts have no effect on you unless you let them. Remember that.
Stop judging others.
It'll help you stop judging yourself. Help to create a society of acceptance, not one of judgment.
Sit up straight, make eye contact, and hold your head up high. Make people listen to you, demand their attention and stop hiding behind the wall you've built to keep yourself safe and comfortable. Speak up because what you're saying is just as important as what somebody else is saying.
You can't share your ideas with others if they're all trapped in your head. Don't hide behind bulky clothes and bad habits. Don't drown in your own negativity, swim in self-love and thrive in the unknown. Nothing will prove those bullies from grade school wrong more than seeing you living your life to the fullest.
Look in the mirror and try to see all the great things about you instead of analyzing everything you don't like.
Confidence starts with you. It's a change in your mindset that reminds you to stop focusing on everything you don't like about yourself and start picking out the things you love. A positive mindset is everything. Strive for the positives instead of focusing on the negatives.
Look in the mirror and instead of zeroing in on that one thing you absolutely hate about yourself and letting it ruin your day, take that negativity and think about a way to work on it. Ask yourself what needs to be tweaked in order for you to stop seeing that every time you look into yourself. Work toward that. Look in the mirror and open your eyes to the wonderful things about you. Flaunt your favorite features, spread your own positivity and improve your mindset. Build yourself up instead of knocking yourself down.
Keeping a journal is a great way to get all your thoughts out and start sorting through them. Positive or negative, get your thoughts out so you don't have them clouding up your mind space. A clear head will help you pick out which things you want to work on the most and help you realize that a lot of things that bring you down aren't really such big deals.
The words on your page don't need to make sense, this journal is for you after all. You don't even have to come up with a solution to each of your problems, just write it down and get it out. It's way easier to sort through things when you can see them clearly laid out in front of you that it is when they're all jumbled up in your head.
It's also a good way to see all the positive thoughts you have throughout the day, you can look back on them when you're having a rough time and remember that there is always something good to look forward to.
Don't second guess yourself. If it feels right, it probably is right.
Trust yourself to make your own decisions. You know what's right for you better than most, understand that and make decisions with yourself in mind. Also, understand that putting yourself first isn't selfish, make sure you are mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy before you do anything for anybody else. You can't help others until you help yourself.
You don't need to be the most attractive person in the room, be the kindest person instead. Outer beauty is nothing compared to a kind soul.
Beauty is completely relative so what is the point in trying to be the "most attractive" when there is never a true, consistent version of beauty? Be yourself and the greatness within you will shine through, I promise. The world we live in is in need of an extremely healthy dose of kindness, be somebody who spreads it and you will be able to reap the benefits in the long run. Through kindness, we achieve true happiness and I think that a combination of the two is the most attractive thing in the world.
Surround yourself with positive energy and people who will accept you for you.
My mom always said if somebody doesn't want to accept you the way you are, they aren't worth having around and she was right (she's almost always right). Surround yourself with people who love and appreciate you for the person you are, don't change to be somebody you're not for anybody else.
Don't try to convince others of yourself, be true to you and they'll learn of your greatness if they pay close enough attention. If they don't have your best interest at heart, they're not worth having in your life. And remember, there is no rule that says you have to stay friends with people, especially people who hurt you (even if you've been friends for a long time).
Work toward happiness, you will achieve success and feel most accomplished if you're doing something that is important to you.
You'll never feel fulfilled doing something that you hate every day. Find something that you love doing and figure out how to build a life on it. Do what makes you happy and follow it, make it yours, do whatever it takes to keep it close.
You're an individual.
Be your best self and strive for the life you deserve. You only get to live it once, make sure you spend each day doing something you love.
A revised poem from November of 2017.
Get up. Snooze.
Get up, part #2.
Shower. Eat breakfast. Go to work. Go to school. Eat something. Shower. Sleep. Hold your breath.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
This is existing. The same tasks over and over. Zooming through your day, looking forward to the weekend. That's existing and that's all it will ever be.
Bike. Swim. Eat. Drink. Taste. See. Make art. Buy art. See a movie. Find a career, not a job. Find a passion and get lost in it. Go on a date. Eat your favorite meal, then learn how to make it. Sleep. Travel. Eat your favorite meal while traveling. Read a book, then read it backwards. Buy a plant. Hell, buy plants.
Surround yourself. Surround yourself with people, with loved ones, with friends, artists, actors, with the real ones, with the lovers and the doers. Have a party. Find a hobby.
Shave your head. Pierce your nose. Go to a show. Visit another country. Visit your own country. Keep a journal. Take photographs. Hug someone. Listen to music louder than you should. Sing in the shower. Sing in your car. Kiss somebody. Breathe.
Stay up all night. Sleep all day.
Smile until your face hurts.
Make someone laugh.
Make it count.
Write poems, even if you aren't a poet.
Risk something. Risk everything.
Live. Live. Live.
And then? Live some more.