Last semester, I was in “Austria,” meaning that I was hopping around from England to Romania, switching my focus back and forth from school assignments to seat assignments. While it was incredible, it was also quite an adjustment. I eventually got into the groove of things, but before too long, it was time to go home.
This summer, I had a very hard time getting used to being home again. I felt like I had been flung from the foot of the Alps to the heart of the South, and the differences were striking.
When I finally got used to my nannying job, it was time to switch to a bakery job, and two weeks into that, I ended up taking a detour to Jamaica for a muddy but moving mission trip. When I was sufficiently in love with the people and places of Jamaica, I returned home, back to my bakery job. After three more weeks being back with my family, it was finally time for me to return to Franciscan after my eight months away.
Now I’m back – as you may have noticed – and my goal is still to adjust. We’re over a month into the school year, and I’m still trying to find balance, keeping track of school, work, friends and extracurricular activties. It’s funny that no matter where I am in my life and in the world, I’m always just trying to adjust.
And I’m loving it.
It wasn’t always this way; I used to find this whole cycle of encountering change and having to adjust very painful, and in some ways it still is, but it is also much more enjoyable now because, while I may not know what lies before me, I do know and trust whom I’m following.
When I first began at Franciscan, I had a terribly difficult time getting used to things. I distinctly remember my best friend writing in my senior yearbook for me to have fun “frolicking around your dream school,” but I could not fit that perception I had had of what my life would be like at Franciscan into what it actually was. I was sad. And lonely.
Perhaps what I struggled with the most – which underlay all of my other insecurities – was one question I kept coming back to, especially in adoration: who am I?
I had spent my whole life identifying myself simply as “Catholic.” This epithet was actually quite descriptive since most of my friends were Jews, atheists or some mainline Protestant religion.
Then I came to Franciscan, and being “Catholic” no longer made me me. I basically felt like I had lost my identity. I had to spend freshman year rediscovering who I was, and I learned not to change myself to fit someone else’s idea of what a Catholic or a college student should be. Rather than change my identity, I had to learn to grow into who I am meant to be.
And change is good, but it is important to remember that change does not mean tearing down and starting from scratch. God wants you, not who you pretend to be, and for this reason, I choose to use the word “adapt.” There is continuity between who you were and who you are becoming. When God calls you to grow, he is calling you to become a deeper, fuller you, not to become an entirely new person. Just look at Jesus: the Lord appeared to the disciples with a resurrected body, which was his same body, but more.
That is what God wants from us when he throws something new our way; he wants our same selves, but more.
I don’t know where God’s calling you in life, but I guarantee that your life will never be stagnant. You will always have to adapt to change in this crazy adventure of life, and I sure hope you enjoy it!