Monday, August 24, 2009

One thing I'll never understand.....

Being a college student, I often get asked about my degree program, like most other students. Of course, as always, I answer that I am an International Studies major, focusing on Latin America and Development. This is usually followed by a "What are you going to do with THAT???"

I don't mind being asked about my life dreams and goals but this question bugs me for a couple reasons. One, I don't think a college education should just be about vocational training (especially as jobs can and do change) and two, how many teens and twenty-somethings can honestly say they know what to do with the rest of their lives? Aside from maybe something heavily specialized (business, engineering, etc), does a piece of paper really determine exactly what will occur in the future?

College was never supposed to be about vocational training. A college education was meant to broaden the mind of a young student, to allow them to explore various fields, ideas and ways of thinking, to encourage them to ultimately decide for themselves, whether it was what they wanted in their education or what they wanted in life. That's why, in colleges everywhere, business majors have to take classes like art history and music majors have to take science. In my case, my major requires me to take classes in history, government, economics, and foreign language. Regardless of what I do with my life, that knowledge base can only serve me well. As for the job aspect, that's what internships, networking, and workshops are for. They don't care whether you're highly specialized. Most employers want someone who is passionate, who works hard and who can think. For these reasons alone, a college education is not worthless.

As for me being a "lazy" person because I don't know, well, as I've said, that's most of us in life, no matter how old we are. Unless you're involved in something requiring a high degree of specialization, chances are that you'll have different jobs throughout your life. I interned at a non-profit over the summer and saw people go on to endeavors such as USAID, the UN, overseas volunteer programs, or grad school. Most of these people are a few years older than myself and have had their fair share of life experience. If I, at the age of twenty, don't know what I want and I'm still in school, waiting tables and I just completed my first internship, I don't think I need to have it all figured out to a T just yet. That does not make me lazy. It just means I'm still figuring it out and as I have my share of jobs and opportunities, my purpose in life will become clearer.

So, if you're a young college student, feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders , don't sweat it. I dare and defy anyone to figure it out right away. Also, sometimes people are just curious and want to know. They aren't always out to criticize your choices. Likewise, on the other side, keep that in mind. Many of us face enough pressure trying to maintain good grades while working, staying involved, and seeing our friends. We don't need an existential crisis added to the mix. I'm pretty sure that, as college students, we're good enough at generating those on our own.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fair Warrior

She stands, proud, strong, and secure. Her armor is buckled tight, shining like new, as she prepares for battle. She is nervous but seemingly unafraid, with a determined look and dignified smile. She clenches her teeth and heads for the battlefield.

The day is rough and battle is rougher. She fights with intensity, a feat for a small, seemingly slight girl, yet her strength is impeccable and her attitude ferocious. She is not afraid to run out to the front lines, to give herself up for her comrades, her cause, her country. There is pain, but she ignores it. There is no time.

The war is won. Her armor newly polished, her face triumphant, the crud of war washed away, she is given honor, honor for valor, for courage, and for strength. There is now peace and justice in their fair land. Comrades laugh, embrace, and drink to victory. There are wounds, but now is the time for celebration. She celebrates harder than them all, feasting and drinking because life is too short.

The night is over. She is in her chamber, her armor on its stand, her weapons put down. There are no clothes for war, feasting, or even play but merely a soft, thin garment, enveloping her muscular yet small, graceful figure. She picks up her beads, to pray for thanksgiving, protection, and peace. As she does, she finally notices she is wounded, the blood staining her soft garment, the pain spreading down her side.

It is only in that garment, the garment that does not protect but exposes (even her bare breasts), with the beads, the beads that symbolize the most heartfelt of prayers, that she allows herself to acknowledge these wounds. And then, only then, she begins to cry. Even after the victory of battle.

"Too nice?" or "Too scared to tell the truth?"

In the wake of the tragic shooting in PA, committed by a Mr. George Sodini, I've been seeing articles, articles talking about "nice guys". Not guys who are truly nice, but the way we tend to tell guys that they're "too nice", in an attempt to get them off our backs. Or how guys feel that, because they are "nice", they are thus deserving of anything a girl can do to get their attention.

This makes me wonder: why are we all so dishonest when it comes to whether or not we actually like someone? Why are we so afraid to tell the truth? Is it that hard to say, "I'm just not that into you?" or "I like you as a friend, not as a boy/girlfriend?" Or, if you don't even like them as a friend, "Because I don't," "I just met you," and "I'm not even friends with you," aren't good enough reasons? Why do we have to make niceness a reason?

Bottom line: relationships come and go and none are dependent on whether you're too nice or not. I think we need to stop getting hung up over whether or not the opposite or same sex finds us attractive and concentrate on being good people, people who are true to themselves and others. People who treat others right and don't expect anything in return. People who focus on living life to the fullest and giving everything they can. Because that IS sexy, that IS attractive and regardless, life is too short and the rest of the world too capricious for any other alternative.

So don't worry about whether you're too nice or not. And if you don't like someone who likes you, be upfront and honest. Tactful, but honest.....and yes, that's something all of us, myself included, need to work on.

Monday, August 17, 2009

How are you still Catholic???

This question hurts when asked. Yes, if you haven't figured it out by now, I am a practicing Catholic. Not a cradle Catholic either, but a crazy convert. I "swam the Tiber", so to speak, when I was in my teens and while I've been through storms, questions, and crises, I know I could never leave my faith without first cutting off one of my limbs. It really is that dear to me.

In addition to my Catholicism, I am also a feminist (yet still pro-life, yes, I make it work), an activist, an environmentalist (learning how to be a better one) and a political moderate who leans a bit left of center. I don't do anything stereotypically "bad" but I have nothing against going out with my friends, staying out late (provided I don't have a test or a long day at work) and the occasional smoke of hookah. I question my faith and I certainly question its teachings regarding some issues (cough:women priests:cough). Mainly though, I am an outspoken rabble rouser and I am not afraid to make my voice heard on matters important to me, especially on certain topics such as the death penalty, pro-life, sexual assault, hunger, poverty (especially the feminization of poverty), gender inequity, and foreign assistance reform (by the way, get your Senators to cosponsor S. 1524, please!). So, when I do this, I am very shocked to hear this question.

You see, it's not in spite of my faith that I stand up for these things, but rather because of my faith. My faith is in Jesus Christ and Jesus told us that we were to take care of and stand up for the least of these, because by doing so, we were actually serving Him. I believe that. I also believe that God is love, that love is a choice and when chosen, endures through the ages, but it's more than an emotion because it has to last through the hard times. Even with all my questions, that's why I stay with the Church, because I do believe I find God there, and if He is love, then there is something that surpasses a human institution. And that faith has given me the courage to do things I NEVER imagined that I would do before hitting 20, whether it was lobbying Congress, speaking authoritatively on hunger issues, or a few matters too personal to mention on the Internet. Even with my doubts, the Church is where I found God and my faith has been the glue that's kept me together, even when I've thought I was breaking inside.

Finally, the God I believe in created man and woman as equals, to be treated with dignity and respect. The Church social teachings echo that in every aspect of life, for example, why we're pro-life for ALL life, not just the unborn. For that matter, we're also pro-quality of life and believe in the necessity of a living wage for every man and woman. And, for every bad apple that's come out of the Church, every child molesting, power abusing priest (and to be honest, you'll find them in married households and public school systems everywhere else, it's not just the priesthood), there has been someone like Mother Teresa, who gave up her convent life to cart the dying off the streets of Calcutta. Or MonseƱor Oscar Romero, who used his position as Archbishop to stand up for the poor, even till he was murdered by death squads while saying Mass. Or St. Maximillian Kolbe, who gave up his life for someone else while in a concentration camp. Or St. Francis of Assisi.....I mean, by their fruits, you shall know them, right?

I will still question, because I'm human. And, for the record, I'm not perfect. I'm not good. I'm certainly no saint. I just keep trying and I pick myself up as needed. While I'm at it, I will continue to speak up, because that's why I believe in what I believe in. And, as for being young and having some fun, well, barring a few mortal sins, the wedding at Cana proves that there's no sin in that!

After all, I did name this blog after Doubting Thomas. It helps to know I'm not the only one. At the same time, I will die before I deny what I believe in. Because, to me, it's like breathing and there's no way to live without air.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I'm twenty years old. Twenty. Out of my teens. Two years of legal adulthood under my belt, but one year shy of legal drinking age. Five years till I get lower car insurance rates. Twenty, with two years of college down, one and a half to go, a lease with my name on it, first baby steps into career world via an internship that is soon to end, and a life that could not be more crazy but wonderful than it is right now. What does this all mean?

I've been able to do a lot, accomplish quite a bit and experience a ton of events and emotions, painful, joyful, tough, sweet, quiet, loud, but every moment no more or less beautiful than the one that had just passed. I've regained faith in my God, a new found respect for my government, and an awe and amazement at the potential of people to be indescribably good.

I never thought I'd get to see my President as close as the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Or give Communion at the Pope's Mass. Or get, not one, but two, TWO opportunities to see my favorite band of all time. Or lobby my Congressman and have him support what I wanted (and find out from his office that he did end up supporting it). Or see something as beautiful as giant roses in the nation's capital (yes, the Cathedral, Memorial Day). Or experience non-profit work in all of its facets, from the exciting to banal). Or even go to Medieval Times, random! I never thought I'd be lucky enough to be a part of all that.

Where do I go after I finish? Will I still be in the city I love so much, the city that brought me from the last vestiges of my childhood to the first steps of womanhood? Or am I meant for something else? The Mediterranean? Central America? Two regions of the world I constantly talk about, study, read about in the news, and learn the languages of? Or somewhere else in the U.S. or in the world that needs me? Will I join the Peace Corps? A Catholic program? Get a job at a non-profit? Still wait tables as I wait for what's right? Go to midwife school? Where am I going? What was I meant for? It may be the start of my life......I just want to start right......

It's been a crazy whirlwind so far. Breathless, lovely, ugly, painful, joyful, with tears and laughter, prayers and curses, people who broke my heart and people who sparked it and brought it to life. People who've touched my life deeply and people who've hurt me hard. Moments that made me smile and moments that had me hiding behind a cup of coffee and a pillow. I'm blessed to have had the life I've had so far. And I'm not afraid of my destiny. Just curious to see what's behind the blind curve....:)

In moments of pain and moments of joy, God is good and life has never felt so right.