I grew up as a strict Catholic. I got baptized, received my First Holy Communion, and just recently fulfilled the last act of becoming “the ultimate Catholic”, which was my confirmation. As I grew up with these expectations involuntarily, going to an all-girls Catholic school from age two to fourteen, I never knew about all of the other religions out there or even all of the other branches of Christianity that existed. It was like my parents shielded me from a whole other world, a world that accepts women ministers, gay people, and exciting masses that didn’t make me fall asleep.
This was all so new to me. All I grew up learning was that Jesus was on a cross, he died,
came back, and died again. Of course at my Catholic all-girls’ school, I was taught many details about Jesus, and it became a skill of mine to smile and nod throughout the endless classes while secretly daydreaming about lunch or boys.
Before I attended Blair, I assumed Catholicism was a “must” of living in my house, but something changed last summer. For my fifteenth birthday, my dad bought me a beautiful little
Buddha figure. At the time, I had no idea what this really was, but what I did know was that it somewhat resembled my dad with its cute round belly and its bright smile. I kept this figure on my windowsill for months, but one day I decided to investigate this little mini-dad that lived in my room.
I bought many books on meditation and Buddhism. I read and learned for months, grasping onto every piece of knowledge with such care and interest. Then I started to learn how to meditate. Meditation became my way out of the stresses of being a teenage girl. I could put my phone aside, close my eyes, and let go. I realized quickly that this religion felt much more genuine to me than anything I’d ever practiced before.
Bad anxiety has been a battle of mine since I was very young, and this practice seemed to wash my worries away, which peaked in seventh grade. Once I started meditating and learning more about this new mindset that I was capable of achieving, my anxiety slowly diminished and almost completely ceased.
At the beginning of last year, I really started to get into Buddhism. I made a Buddha shrine of beautiful porcelain buddhas on my shelf, hung up a tapestry reading “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” made sure to use my meditation bowl every day, and hung Tibetan flags outside my window.
Later that year, my mom let me know that I would have to attend our Catholic church weekly to prepare for my confirmation in May. I was livid! I felt as if I had no independence, but of course I did as I was told. Once I started attending mass every Sunday, I soon started to enjoy it. The beautiful hymns that were sung began to touch my heart. The priest’s readings included so many deep and intricate interpretations.
I was lost. I had gone all the way from being a Catholic, to hanging Tibetan prayer flags outside of my window while listening to the vibrations of the Earth.
Currently, I identify as agnostic. I feel there is a higher power out there, but I still have not discovered the religion that is completely right for me. What I learned from this whole journey is that sometimes we have to wait. We have to wait to find out the results of our applications, we have to wait to grow and develop into what we aspire to be, and most importantly, we have to wait to discover who we really are as individuals. I would love to resolve this article with the happy ending of me finally finding my utterly reborn self, but that is definitely not the case. So, for now, I will wait, as all good things take time.
(Copyright 2019 Ava Roche)