Background on the photo, mainly for my own recollection: The photo above was taken from a space in the Our Lady of Guadalupe cottage, which I am assigned to work in in the mornings with another volunteer. Our time there mostly consists of visiting apartments with beds that need to made, and having conversations with the residents we run into. Today in particular we were also asked to wash the windows down of the room pictured above. At one point we were interrupted by the Head of Human Resources, who joked that we were stuck with the chore when we had probably expected to be chatting it up with the residents when we originally signed up for the trip. He expressed his appreciation, and commented on how the task was one of humility, and even through these tasks joy can be spread.
I shared the photo above because in this space it hit me how joyful I have been, particularly in these last few days. It’s overwhelming, refreshing, and somewhat new. The joy is so rich that it’s almost unbearable. What’s even better is that it has been overflowing into my interactions with my fellow volunteers, residents, and any other people I’ve met this week. It has contributed to the blessings I’ve experienced in my conversations and the motivation to approach random residents or even my co-volunteers with genuine interest in wanting to learn about them or to serve them.
This intense feeling of joy is the culmination of a personal turning point a few weeks prior to coming to the Little Sisters. I had somehow started the semester off on the wrong foot, lost my balance, and failed to ground myself again. I had a warped perception of myself and my relationships that haunted me even though I knew it all wasn’t true. I thrive off of my interactions with others: my self-confidence and relationships relate to each other on a two way street. I felt that both were suffering to an extent (or at least I perceived them to be), and with negativity feeding into each end, I was trapped in a desperate cycle that left me feeling alone. I knew what was making me unhappy and how I could go about changing it, but I just didn’t have the will to do so.
Eventually, it struck me how much energy and emotion I was wasting in keeping myself somewhat depressed. Aside from one Mass in which I was knocked over the head for my foolishness, how I’ve managed to get myself out of the funk is a blur. Along the way, I’ve learned that my unhappiness was due to the introvert’s heightened self-awareness, which is exacerbated by pride (*shakes angry fist at vices*). I’ve been able to admit and recognize that I need plenty of work in humility, and have taken the steps in growing in that virtue by making appropriate resolutions and using my finely tuned self-awareness to reflect on where self-improvements is necessary rather than using it for unhealthy self-criticism.
I’ve been able to overcome most of the struggle prior to coming on ASB, but surrounding myself with new people and occupying myself with service has allowed me to push through the final chains holding me back. It’s been a liberating experience. What I appreciate the most is that I feel like I’ve rediscovered the person I had become over the summer. Those three months of living in Boston were a challenging but fruitful experience that helped me grow in self-knowledge. It also allowed me to whittle away the parts of me that I hung onto because I was under the illusion that I had conform to others or to act in a particular way to connect with people. Unfortunately, I somehow lost touch with that version of myself over the fall semester and I couldn’t reach her again. Now, she’s found her way back, and I will fight to have her stay