Melissa Gutierrez Lopez, Senior Anchor Intern
Christmas break was interesting. Not because I had an interesting experience or did anything interesting but because I came to many realizations that helped prepare me for my final semester at Notre Dame.
Over break, I realized I did not want to continue living the way that I was. When I got home, I wasn’t feeling great for I felt like I didn’t end last semester on a high note. Feeling this way, I allowed myself to fall deeper into my own disappointment. I let my insecurities and self-doubt overwhelm me and cloud my judgment about my future. I grew worried about the many important decisions I needed to make such as which post-grad service applications to complete, how to progress with my thesis, what events to plan for my job, and then choose which classes I would continue with. Engulfed with my negativity and pessimism, I found myself unable to make those decisions and unable to picture what I would do after graduation. Because of these negative emotions, I did not have the energy to interact with people. So for most of break, I minimized my interactions with my family and wasted time by mindlessly scrolling on the internet. It was not until the end of break when I had a heart to heart with my mom and sister that I realize I needed to make a change. I could not keep living with so much negativity and hopelessness. I decided to change my mindset and attitude towards life, but most of all, change how I see myself.
I started slow. First, by watching inspiring videos and then listening to an audiobook that talked about embracing imperfection and vulnerability. This book also talked about the value of joy, gratitude and authenticity, and allowed me to realize I had developed habits of self-criticism. As a result, I made an effort to become self-aware and notice when I was being too critical of myself. I also created goals that I wanted to pursue: deepen my faith, be my own advocate, and be more intentional with my actions. Most importantly, I want to be more authentic and present with others.
In the midst of these efforts, I started to see how God was helping me through this. The author of the audiobook was Catholic, so it was nice to hear how these efforts for self-compassion, vulnerability, and authenticity were related to the Catholic faith. I cognitively knew that God did not want me to live life in despair or in anxiety. I also understood that the struggles I was experiencing were not meant to defeat me, like the Spanish saying “Dios aprieta pero no ahorca.” But, I wasn’t able to truly accept this. So this new understanding of vulnerability and embracing imperfection, as presented in the book, made me realize that I can live a content life with God by being happy with who I am. I understood that life will be hard at times, and that I will fail and experience disappointment but it will be okay. Why? Because I will remember my self-worth as a child of God and that regardless of what happens, I will be okay for as he told Isaiah, “Do not fear me: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious hand.” Isaiah 41:10
So, that is how I came back to start my new and last semester, with a different mindset of optimism, self-compassion, and an intention of becoming more authentic with those around me. And after awhile, I felt like I was on the right track.
Just last week I was reminded of how God works in incredible ways when I attended the Taste of Faith event. I wasn’t sure if I was going to attend, but decided last minute that I actually wanted to support my fellow interns and hear Fr. Pete speak. Imagine my surprise and joy to hear Fr. Pete talk about things that I’ve been reflecting on the past couple of weeks- accepting our imperfections, being vulnerable with people, and being authentic in your encounters. In hearing Fr. Pete, it felt like God was there with me, letting me know that I was on the right path and it felt comforting. I tried to live in that moment of inspiration and recommit myself to continue my efforts for self-improvement and being authentic. This is the way God intended me to live- to rejoice in his love and mercy, love him and those around me, and most importantly, to trust in him, as is written in Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.”( Proverbs 3:5-6)
As my final semester progresses, I want to maintain this mindset of trust in God and in myself. I want to be intentional with my actions and be my authentic self with those around me. After reflecting on how I want to spend my last semester at Notre Dame, I feel that it would be great to spend it open to vulnerability, self-acceptance, and authentic relationships. I can’t imagine a better way to finish my time here at ND and I’d invite my fellow seniors to do the same.
When I become too worried about my imperfections, I return to one of my favorite prayers, the Serenity Prayer, and remind myself that I am not called to be perfect, but authentic.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.