I’m currently sitting at a shared round table at the General Deli and Cafe in downtown South Bend. I’m actually not sure if this qualifies as “downtown,” but it’s a right on Jefferson off Eddy Street and about a five minute drive from my apartment. It’s a lovely space. The sweet cafes of my summer are a two-hour drive away now but this is a happy second. It was important to note that this table is shared because the nice man across from me is frantically shaking his legs and making the table vibrate. I feel like I’m at an academic hipster rave.
I just had lunch so it’s only a black tea for me today. I’m starting to think that there is a link from my caffeine intake and my anxiety skyrocketing on a near daily basis, so I am taking a break from my hugs in mugs to see if it helps.
Today has been a beautiful day.
Normally, Sundays start with morning mass at the Basilica. It is a busy crowd but an incredible space. I am so lucky to go to a school with such gorgeous architecture. This particular Sunday started a big step in my faith journey. What’s even more beautiful about this journey is that one of my best friends, B, is my official partner in crime! Campus Ministry at Notre Dame is one-of-a-kind, and it’s led by a fantastic man named Brett. I have never met anyone so full of joy, life and love towards others. Brett helps run my new Sunday meetings, and even though I was quite sleepy today, I still left with a full heart and a mind crammed with thoughts and ideas. My arms, on the other hand, were filled with books; once again, I put my weekend reading off until the night before it was due.
Brett said something today that has been stuck in my head. That’s the main reason I’m finally updating the blog instead of starting in on my reading. I’ll read when I’m dead – that’s how it works, right?
Brett was speaking about his own personal experience with Catholicism and admitted, “I am not a finished product.”
I thought it was a beautiful statement, and an important one that goes beyond faith and one’s developing relationship with God. These past few weeks have introduced what I like to refer to as “Career Hell.” For a few days I was swimming in its depths not because I really needed to, but because I felt this immense pressure to. Everyone else was talking consulting, case studies, interviews, networking and pantsuits and I felt like I had to be a part of it. Never mind that most of the companies recruiting now were for jobs and fields I was a not part of nor interested in. It took a few days and calls home to feel calmer, remember that I had plenty of time and know that the timelines for my industries were different from the craziness on campus.
I don’t have a problem trying to “sell myself,” and I know it’s a necessary part of the job hunt. However, I was putting an insane amount of stress on myself to present the “perfect product” – a bright, curious college senior with lots of questions and a hefty resume. I was finding that my efforts to create this person was chipping away at my sanity.
Like Brett, I am an unfinished product. These past three weeks back at school have not been perfect, but there have been perfect moments. There have also been happy moments, confusing moments and moments when I couldn’t find any energy to leave my bed. I missed Notre Dame while I was away, first for study abroad and then for the summer, but one thing I didn’t miss was the feeling that I had to once again have it all together. Not to mention that this year I had to have it all together AND figure out what I’m doing after graduation. With the way some people talk about it, I might as well be graduating next week.
I’m mostly writing this because I know that I’m not alone in the ways I’ve been feeling. I know without a doubt that I (and all my incredible, hardworking friends) will find great places to live life and grow next year. Until then, however, it can be grueling and disheartening.
We are all unfinished products. As much as we desire to be perfect and composed humans without a care in the world and with only the best opportunities, we just aren’t. I’m sorry if I’m bursting your bubble here. Trying times do not define you, but neither do triumphant ones. Life comes in seasons, and like most things in nature, we change with them. Science says you stop growing in your twenties, but I don’t think you ever really stop. The person I am today is very different from the one I was a year ago today. It was a strange thing to think about, and to remember everything that happened to get me to this point, but I’m grateful for all of it. I’m grateful that a year ago I didn’t say, “Alright, this is good. I don’t need anything to change from here. I’m good.” I may never be completely satisfied with the person I am, but I know that she is trying, working hard and willing to be patient. For now, I am happy to acknowledge that I am no where close to being finished.