Sunday Sermon

This past Sunday was the third of the month; in my parish, that means the deacon, rather than the priest, speaks the Homily. For anyone who doesn’t know, in a Catholic mass the Homily occurs after the three Bible readings. In the Homily, the priest or deacon tries to explain or add insight to what we had just heard. Usually, I don’t particularly like when the deacon at our church does the Homily. He’s not terrible, he just utilizes the same writing technique every time, which, as a writer, tends to get on my nerves.

However, this Sunday was different. Saturday night I randomly woke up and felt empty inside. “There is no God,” I thought to myself, not sure where this sentiment came from but believing it nonetheless. The next morning I didn’t feel as faithless, but could not fully trust in my religion, even though I still prayed and sung throughout the Mass.

As the deacon performed the Homily, my mind drifted between listening intently to what he had to say and wondering whether I should apply for that campus job. Fortunately, I tuned in to hear a beautiful comment  from our deacon.

“We seem to focus so much on who we think should be saved. Instead, let’s focus on strengthening our own faith.”

This is a really important idea for Catholics and other Christians to hear in a world where people march against gays and abortion or condemn the use of birth control. Sometimes we spend so much energy, resources and time attempting to persuade others to do “the right thing” when we could be improving our own religious dedication through prayer, service and love. I literally smiled in church, relieved to hear this statement after hearing our priests discuss the evils within our modern society every so often and how we must be the metaphorical light of the world.

Furthermore, this is an attitude someone of any race, gender, nationality, age, and yes, even religion, could adopt. Changing others is difficult, especially when dealing with a) those who do not wish to change, or b) opinions rather than fact. This does not mean abandoning our own beliefs and submitting to someone else’s views. Rather, we should concentrate on enhancing our way of life instead of attempting to change others, because no one can claim they live a perfect lifestyle.

This wasn’t the end of #quotableChurchmoments. During another part of the mass, a lector reads a list of intentions, or things we want to pray for. After each intention, we all say “Lord, hear our prayer”. This was one of the best intentions I have ever heard:

“We pray for all those who are searching for God, that they may be enlightened so that their natural goodness will shine through”. 

Anyone who has studied Classicalism and Romanticism knows most religious institutions, especially the Catholic church, follow many classical beliefs, including the idea people are born evil and must be taught to be good. Contrariwise, this prayer recognizes people are children of God and therefore naturally good creatures. Beautiful.

Though these experiences have not reinstated my faith to its full health, this Sunday sermon made me hopeful for alterations in the attitude of the world and hopeful for my own future. As I look forward to college with excitement, anxiety, and some fear, I know this will be a time of change and self evaluation, of figuring out who I am and what I want. Through my own natural goodness, I can strengthen my faith and achieve my full potential in whatever I’m supposed to do on this earth.

*Note-all comments are paraphrased.

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Changes

Hi everyone. Again, sorry about a nearly month-long hiatus. Soon after posting “Waking Up Happy”, I started dealing with some pretty bad depression (the worst I’ve had in a long time), actually skipping work because I felt so bad. Though I have been feeling better for about a week, I’ve been preparing for the so-called next chapter of my life: college.

Other than excuses, I have some pretty significant changes I’ve experienced in the past month or so. After over a year of enduring depression, my parents-well, mostly my mother-caved and agreed to take me to a psychiatrist before I go to college. I was exceedingly anxious prior to visiting the doctor, knowing that I usually cry when discussing this topic. And, of course, I did cry when he asked me to start describing how I had been feeling. We discussed the symptoms of depression, how depression affects the body, and how antidepressants can help.

I was relieved when he told me he certainly believed I had depression; I had been clobbered with self-doubt, wondering if maybe I wasn’t really depressed and was just going through a rough patch in my life. But depression is a real illness, which can be treated just like any other disease. When we started discussing antidepressants, my mom related her worries, and pointed out that, based on the symptoms he had described, most of the people she knew could be depressed.

He then related the most important symptom of depression: the disease affects one’s life and prevents one from functioning as they would without the depression. Though she claimed she did not see it interfering with my life, I reminded-or rather confessed-I had skipped work and school because of how I felt. The psychiatrist also stated I had been trying to solve the issue through other means, particularly therapy. Though I feel therapy helps me tremendously, I seem to have reached an impasse and can no longer progress forward in healing.

Soon after, I was prescribed some antidepressants, and have been taking them ever since. It’s been about a week now. In the past week I’ve had trouble sleeping, but I’ve started to fall back into my pattern, and last night got 7 whole hours of sleep.

I’m also looking forward to college more than I have thus far. Prior to this week, I’ve been terrified to embark on my college adventures, to the point where I was dreading my departure date. For some reason-maybe after talking with my roommate, feeling less depressed, rediscovering my love for biology, or a combination of the three-I’ve become obsessed with going to college. It’s one of the first things I think about when I wake up and the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep. I’m done with paint crew, my summer job, and just want to get back to academic work.

Salutatorian Speech

Just thought I’d share the speech I made almost a month ago [insert gasp here] when I graduated from high school. I decided my theme should be “Time”, since I have had such difficulty with nostalgia, growing up, and preparing for the future. And yes, I did reference Mean Girls and quote Doctor Who.

“Good evening parents, teachers, board of education members, siblings who are wondering why they have to sit out here just for that ten seconds during which their brother or sister get their diploma, and, most importantly, the Class of 2014. Graduation seems to always focus on two things: the past and the future. This fall the Science League participated in the Ocean Science Bowl at Rutgers, and we decided to commemorate this experience by buying a fish for Mr. T’s classroom. We named it Fetch, both because this is a type of wind pattern which causes waves, and because of the movie Mean Girls. So, Class of 2014, you’re welcome, we made fetch happen. All of us, no matter what we have been involved with, have these inside jokes and special experiences with those we are close to. Though I cannot name all of these, because they are your own individual experiences, I really hope these are the things you remember about high school.

As a wonderful friend reminded me while I was writing this speech, graduation is not about perfection; we’ve already passed all our classes and possibly trashed old papers. We’re done. Graduation is about honoring us. Let’s honor our high school adventures and the teachers who have enriched our lives. Sorry Ms. F, there are no Shakespeare quotes in this speech. Let’s celebrate each other. Though I am honored to be your salutatorian, there are so many of you out there who are just as or more qualified to speak to our class. You are experts in political science, chemistry, or theatre. You are incredible dancers and athletes. If you are artistically inclined, I envy you, because five year olds have been disgusted with my drawing skills.

Finally, we look towards the future. Elton Pope, an obscure character in a TV show called Doctor Who, states, “When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… Grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much madder. And so much better.” Some people say our high school years are the best years of our lives, but I challenge you to get better and better each year. As we look forward to our futures, I challenge each of you to depart from the norm and create your own strange, mad, better world.

My final advice to all of you is to take time. Take time to figure yourselves out, to realize what it is you want. Go out, live, take risks, make mistakes, come back to square one, try again. Fail as much as you possibly can. Take time to be open to new ideas, and to love and be loved. Take your time growing up, and don’t forget to be a little immature and rowdy every now and then. Congratulations Class of 2014, and good luck, though I know you will not need it.”

My Doll’s Eyes

Here’s a new piece I’ve been working on the past few days. It’ll probably go through more edits, but here is what I have so far.

My doll has bright eyes

and my eyes are their reflection

as we innocently spend our days

playing out our jubilation.

*

My doll’s eyes are dimmer

and therefore mine comply;

we play a little less each day

and my breaths have learned to sigh.

*

My doll’s eyes grow dimmer still

and mine will do the same;

though We no longer have fun

We still play silly games.

*

My doll’s eyes are dust-ridden.

The grime has covered their shine

the brightness completely abandoned

the luster lost in time.

*

And my eyes are no different;

they’ve surrendered their childish light.

If I wipe the dust away,

will it work for me too?

*

Whose eyes reflect whose?

I’m a high school graduate!

Last night was my high school graduation. While I was at the actual ceremony, I had a headache, nerves about making my salutatorian speech, and the sun in my eyes for most of the evening. I was also hot and sweaty from sitting in the sun, and therefore did not feel the reality of graduating sink in. I felt like I took everything in, as well as I could; I watched closely as all of my classmates graduate, hugged a bunch of teachers, and danced to “Happy”, which they played after the formal ceremony was over and we were all set loose to roam around the football field.

This morning the realization hasn’t fully sunk in yet, but I’m panicing about nothing in particular, so I’m starting to get there. I’m really stressed this morning because there is so much I have to do today. The fact high school is finally over also makes me feel a little depressed…there’s a lot I wish I had done better. My salutatorian speech was okay, but not exceptional or personal at all. Most people did not laugh where I expected them to, and that discouraged me. I did not feel bad about it last night (I was too in the moment of graduation I guess), but now looking back I feel a lot worse about it.

Even though I spent the night with my two best friends in the world, I feel very lonely. Or maybe that’s why I feel lonely? I had the option to go to Project Graduation, essentially a party the school hosted at the Funplex after graduation, but because my two best friends were not going, I chose not to. Either way, not many people reached out to me before, during, or after graduation to talk or share congratulations. I did not anticipate this post becoming miserable, but that’s sort of what happened.

Though I sort of feel like a wreck now, last night was pretty beautiful, even though I had not been hit with the full force of graduating. I feel it’s going to be coming on very soon though…it’s so scary being an adult now. I think once I start making my to-do lists, organizing everything in my life, and completing tasks, I will feel much more at peace.

I’d like to close by sharing the quote I used in my graduation speech.

“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all…grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger. It’s so much madder. And so much better”

-Elton Pope, Doctor Who

P.S. I know that’s not the whole quote, I cut out the “so much darker” part because I did not want to be more verbose than I already was, and because talking about a “dark world” during graduation seemed a little too weird for me. If you wanna read my whole graduation speech, I’m going to make a page for it.

Ungrounded

Whereas last week I did not blog because I was just so gosh darned busy, this week I was plagued by senioritis, depression, and anxiety. I’ve been having a lot of mood swings lately. One minute I’m laughing at a joke my math teacher made or enjoying hanging out with my two fellow lab techs (my best friend and my ex), and the next I am musing how my math teacher stands for so much I hate in the world or despising (and being quite jealous of) my ex for explaining to a teacher how he was given a research intern position at his college over the summer. Just a minute ago I was motivated to write a blog and then poetry, work out, and start making appointments for paint crew as well as summer plans, and now I am amazed I have enough energy to write this simple post.

I feel ungrounded. As if I am just floating around in the middle of space, in the middle of the universe. I am very unattached to reality. I am floating through rough waters in a tiny boat without an anchor or a safe harbor to pull into. As the school year comes to a close and I am almost done with high school forever, I sense a tremendous lack of direction in my life. Previously I have always had an immediate goal to attend to: get an A on the test, do homework, go to a club meeting, prepare for prom, etc.

I still have objectives I need to achieve, such as filling out paperwork for college. However, all of these goals are seemingly abstract. I will be attending college in the fall, but this reality is still surreal, and therefore I cannot perform tasks for college without feeling more ungrounded than before. I was supposed to make my list of things I’ll need for my dorm and create a registry at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but did not get farther than signing up with my account.

In addition to this crazy senior feeling, I am suffering an inescapable case of senioritis, so my lack of motivation has really affected me; for example, I put off a project that was due today, and therefore spent last night completing it. In reality it would not have been too bad because I had finished most of it in class and just had to add some pictures, do a works cited page, and write a final paragraph, but I kept procrastinating and ended up going to bed past midnight, then waking up at 5:10am to finish.

This procrastination and the fact I had to present my project caused my anxiety to increase twofold. This troubling groundlessness-a lack of a sense of direction-also causes my anxiety and depression to skyrocket. I want to be active and work towards a goal, but I feel as if I have nowhere to aim anymore.

The Cotton Anniversary

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_anniversary

It has been over two years since I started this blog in my Internet and Web Page Design class. So, I’m going to do what I did on my one year blogging anniversary (blogiversary?), relating 33 ways I have changed/33 things I have done in the past year.

1. I have engaged in therapy to treat depression and anxiety.

2. I have become, not of my own will, single again.

Wow I kind of started off really depressing. I promise it will not all be that bad!

3. I attended my first All Time Low Concert, which was friggin awesome. I started listening to more alternative/alternative rock music.

4. I won a $2,500 four-year scholarship from my dad’s union.

5. I got my first summer job, which was painting buildings for the town’s school district. Basically our paint crew went to different schools and repainted hallways, rooms, cafeterias, gyms, parking lots, etc. It was a really great job, 40 hours a week, and a little bit over minimum wage. This year if I do it again I’ll be paid even more!

6. I survived AP English. That is a huge accomplishment. Not only that, but I improved my writing skills tremendously.

7. I applied to seven different colleges: I was not accepted to Dartmouth College or Johns Hopkins University (woah big surprise there), but was accepted to the University of Rochester, Gettysburg College, The College of New Jersey, Pittsburgh University, and Arcadia University.

8. We attempted to visit TCNJ but I was having an emotional low and my stomach felt bad (which could have been a side effect of the emotional low), so we ended up driving up there, driving around the campus, and coming home. We also visited Gettysburg where I got a fantastic feeling, and the University of Rochester, where I had thought I would be attending but when I got there the feeling was not right.

9. Ultimately, I decided to accept admission to Gettysburg College, and am extremely pleased with my decision.

10. I “played” soccer on the Varsity squad; in reality I was a benchwarmer, and soccer made me feel inferior and terrible about myself almost every day, so I am quite happy I will not have to deal with that pressure and negativity anymore. It was not the other players who were negative at all-they were all fantastic-it was just my own low self esteem causing itself to sink lower.

11. I received 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and have made it a life goal to visit as many of these places as possible.

12. I have gotten addicted to gaming videos on YouTube, and regularly follow everyone in Smosh Games. I have also begun watching Achievement Hunter, including Red vs. Blue. I am currently about to start the fifth season.

13. I have also become obsessed with vlogs, some of them including WatchUsLiveandStuff and MostlyMelanie, to the point where during my day I narrate my life as if I am doing a vlog. I have been considering how I would feel vlogging versus blogging. Should I try it? I do not know if I have the right presentation skills or technology, but maybe I can upgrade my camera before college and try it.

14. I survived 18 years on this planet. That also means I upgraded my license and can drive more than one person at a time.

15. For the NHS induction ceremony this year, the teacher I nominated to speak at the ceremony, my AP English teacher, was chosen. Subsequently, I was given the opportunity to write an introduction for her and speak at the ceremony, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because she is such an important mentor for me.

16. I lost my Mommom (my dad’s mom), which has been a complicated and very sad experience.

17. My ex and I came this close to winning our last Science League competition. We were only 8 points, or two questions, behind the dominant school at these competitions, and our two schools had essentially slaughtered everyone else. It was a fantastic way to end one of my favorite extracurricular activities.

18. I felt lonely, unmotivated, hateful, sad and a conglomeration of other negative emotions. I have essentially become a pessimist, which is a bit ironic or funny or whatever because I used to be the most optimistic person I knew.

19. I became a lab tech for my Chemistry teacher. Though most of the work she has given us has been menial, and the fact people always ask my ex for assistance makes me jealous still, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and how chill it is to hang out with the two Chemistry teachers during my SRE and lunch.

20. I saw Frozen, which was really personal for me because of the depression and anxiety Elsa experiences. We also blame Disney for promoting Frozen so much they decided to control the weather and make it the snowiest winter we’ve had in years.

21. Other than on this blog and my sister blog on Tumblr, I still do not share my writing pieces with other people. However, I have given my best friends and my ex (well, when we were together) permission to view my blog.

22. I took German IV (finally), and am so excited to pursue German as a minor in college.

23. I came this close to passing a 2100 on my SATs, but I think a 2090 excellent. Yeah this part of the list is pretty arrogant, but considering how low my self-esteem is, I hope you all will forgive it. Even though it is a worthless number that in no way gauges how smart you really are.

24. I did not attend the senior trip because my two friends did not go; I was not as upset as I thought I would be. I will get to Disney World…eventually.

25. I have decided, for the moment, I want to major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology while minoring in German; I could possibly add a minor in Neuroscience or English.

26. I have been expanding my comfort zone as far as food goes. Previously I have been a picky eater, but I have been trying new foods whenever I get the chance, worrying most of my family to the point that they will put a hand to my forehead to see if I am feverish.

27. I unfortunately engaged in self-harm, though I have been cut-free for months now. I think that deserves a =).

28. I tried to start learning for the knowledge instead of the grade, and to ingrain information in my mind for long-term learning rather than the short-term, forget-about-it-after-the-test thing I have been doing for most of my academic life. AP Chemistry made this sentiment a lot harder.

29. I attended Black and Gold Night, in which the entire high school is separated by last name and the Black and Gold teams duke it out, first in study hall activities like Pictionary and Wii Bowling, and then on Black and Gold Night, where they have a lot of spirit and athletic competitions. And, for the first time in YEARS, Gold Team (my team) won.

30. We successfully pranked my AP English teacher on April Fool’s Day and made her believe none of us had done our homework. It was one of the most amusing events I have ever witnessed.

31. I started watching Attack on Titan. I am not sure if I am in love with it yet (I have only seen the first three episodes), but I really want to find it subbed instead of dubbed, which is all I can seem to find. I abhor dubbed; it feels weird watching anime without the emotion of the original voice actors. Plus dramatic statements in English just sound awkward to me.

32. I ate at Panera for the first time ever, and have discovered their magical macaroni and cheese. Seriously, the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had. The macaroni, which I think is just spaghetti shells, is soft and the cheese is so gooey, a small cup of that with a piece of bread is enough dinner for me (but then again, I like eating multiple small meals).

33. Though my friends circle has, I suppose, shrunk a little, I still have the best friends in the world and love them dearly. For example, I was emotionally distraught this morning and just laid around the house all day. After telling them what was wrong, they came home over my house for a quick visit to hug me and tell me I’m perfect. They are the reason I have the energy to finish this blog (and hopefully complete other tasks throughout the day).

Well, that is probably the longest list I have written in awhile, so thank you if you actually read through all of it! Happy two years, Just Me and My Thoughts, and here’s to another year of blogging awesomeness!