Tears and Love of Friends

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What’s a stressed, Catholic grad student to do when overwhelmed from being hard on herself? Go cry in a local church! I used to pride myself in finding no need to cry, but over the past academic year I’ve discovered the miraculous powers of tears and have accessed them whenever I could.

Other ways I’ve been trying to deal with stress as of late is through prayer, hence why I sought out the church today, as well as reaching out to friends more often. While it usually takes my friends a while to respond, I was lucky to receive encouraging, warm responses from them while in the church. I couldn’t help cracking a smile when reading over their messages, and felt very fortunate to have my friends to cry out to.

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Finding a community

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Today I attended a meeting for a movement within the Catholic church that a friend had invited me to. It was an evening of wonderful, deep, open reflection. Afterwards, we all went out to grab a bite to eat in a local restaurant.

In dealing with a longing for deeper connections with those around me, as well as fighting anxiety in the past few months, a friend had suggested to me that I seek out a community. This group is definitely a community I see myself becoming a part of. I’m encouraged to join by the deep connection I witnessed among the members and the care they showed each other as they shared their struggles and reflections. I look forward to the fruits of hanging around this group in the future.

Victories with anxiety

Yesterday I had an unexplained bout of anxiety that affected me the whole day and distracted me from my work. Having faced multiple days like this hasn’t made the experience any more pleasant, but I have been proud to look back and reflect how I’m learning to manage them better. I have grown in determination for fighting these moments and seeking out help so that they don’t hold me back. I’ve been learning to accept that these days will come, and even though all may seem lost in the moment, I have the power within me to bounce back. I’ve come to recognize the importance of being present in the moment by slowing down thoughts, taking deep breaths, and remembering the positive. Most importantly,  I’ve come to know and appreciate the support group I have in these moments. I’m thankful for the family and friends who let me cry, who withstand listening to the same running thoughts, and who put up with my irrational grumpiness. I’m grateful I have people to relate to and to laugh at anxiety in its face. This includes a friend who yesterday commented she’d refer to her anxiety as Regina George when I said I wish that anxiety was a physical thing we could hit, and then proceeded to make Mean Girls puns.

I have taken the first steps in promising myself not to let anxiety control me. My bout of it yesterday has motivated to make changes to face it head on and defeat it to the extent that I can. Life is too short to be held back.

Catholic Women’s Night

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Last night I was blessed to attend a Women’s Night organized by a few friends at their apartment for the female students of the campus Catholic Center. It was a night of great conversation and reflections filled with so much joy, laughter, and love. A number of women, including myself, contributed written witnesses, while a few others presented their witnesses orally to the group. These witnesses covered personal struggles faced by women our age, including body image, relationships, and self-worth. It was humbling and empowering to share our stories.

Having gone through a difficult year with struggles in relationships, my faith, and self-acceptance, I felt so comforted to know that other women have struggled in the same areas as me. It was affirming to receive the comments above for my witness. From listening to the other women, I’ve accepted the fact that healing is a process that cannot be rushed, and that so much growth can come out of the process once you allow yourself to recognize the pain rather than ignoring it. Most importantly, I was reminded of the one solution I haven’t tried in my own healing and growth, which was to turn to God for support.

Branching out

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On Monday I decided to step out and go to my first meet up! It was organized by a volunteer group at a Panera near me, so I had no reason not to miss it. The other attendees and I spent a couple of hours making cards for patients at Boston Children’s Hospital. It was fun watching how creative people got and to spend time with a new crew. I hope to continue volunteering with this group!

Back on track

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After taking a two week break from running to rest my sprained foot, I finally hit the campus fitness center to run on the track. It was so refreshing to return to running! I’ve been itching to continue training for the BAA 5K. I ran nice and steady and even got in some great conditioning exercises after.

While working out, I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in a while with whom I made plans to grab a meal. I later ran into another acquaintance with whom we shared some recent personal stories we could relate to. I then stayed for a while at the fitness center to do some planning for my school placement since I don’t manage to be as productive in my apartment. In addition to running, this latter part of my evening, seeing people I know and studying, were also signs for me that I’m getting back on track with myself. I haven’t had the best start to the semester, but I at least feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of how what I could do to improve. Finding time to be productive and branching out to spend time with people that I don’t get to see often or would like to know better have been on my mind as a couple of objectives to move forward. I was glad to have accomplished them today without the intention of doing so when I came in to run.

Confidence, positivity, smiles

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This girl rocked her school placement today. She nailed testing kids, kept up her positivity, faced sessions head-on, shared some good exchanges with her supervisor, and pulled off an outfit with bright colors and shoes that stamp confidence with every step. There were some stumbles along the day, with the same difficult kid breaking down during an activity and some goals needing tweaking, but nonetheless she faced it all with a smile after deciding there’s nothing worth stressing about 🙂