I was sharing a paleta (Mexian popsicle) with my friend, Maddie, last week. She went to undergrad with me for the first three years and we’ve continued to spend time together when she graduated early.
We reminisced on our freshman days with a whole lotta laughter. With my and my roommates’ joint graduation party a week before, I shared with Maddie what another of our friends wrote in a card to me. One of the sentences was, “I’m so glad we were hall mates freshman year or else we wouldn’t have had our banana convos and Big Joe!”.
I thought it was hilarious and left it at that. In our freshman dorm, I whipped up a list of hundreds of silly questions and whenever a core group of our hall was hanging out, I would grab a banana and use it as a microphone to go around in a circle and have everyone answer questions to learn more about each other. Big Joe is a brand of bean bags. I had one and the name stuck because I wanted to run a cookie business out of our basement and call it Big Joe’s Cookies. That idea never became a reality but it brought our friend group together because pitching my idea with a sample menu and delivery details to three different rooms of girls eventually made friendships that turned into sophomore, junior and senior year roommates.
As I laughed at my freshman year self, Maddie took a different approach. She found it comical too but her analytical self shone through as it always does. She shared with me a simple sentence that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. “I’m so glad you never changed.”
Maddie went on to say that during our freshman year, our current friend group used to make remarks like “Who is this girl?”. Now, those same ladies who I lived with all four years don’t even acknowledge my quirks, ideas or random thoughts. Not in an ignoring sense but in a, yup, that’s Kerigan for ya.
I embrace change. I (hope that I) always will. But I believe Maddie when she pointed out that my identity never wavered. I didn’t change for others. I tried my very best to resist conformity. I never became embarrassed by sharing what was on my mind or in my heart because, well…it was there! Just last week, one of my freshman to senior roommates even told me that she has never seen me embarrassed because I just laugh at myself.
Sure, I messed up along the way and still do. There are days when I care what others think of me more than I want to acknowledge. But by holding on to that child-like joy that I see washed away from too many of my loved ones, I have learned one very important concept. One principle that is grounded in knowing my worth.
Conforming will bring you comfort. And no human being was made to be comfortable.
My favorite quote of all time is by Pope Benedict XVI. So much so that I wrote it on this wooden slab at a lil’ Christmas party I hosted for my high school friends. He said, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
Human beings are unrepeatable, inexplicably intricate and undoubtedly in God’s thoughts at every moment. Each one is worthy of all the world’s respect and love. Losing sight of this is a series of unfortunate events. Not the book series (although they were pretttay great!) but an exhausting cycle of attempting to meet unattainable standards from yourself and the world.
In Leah Darrow’s podcast (season 2 episode 9), she reminded me that the world will still go on without me. It really really will and the same goes for you. But during our lifetime, it wasn’t meant to. We were all gifted a plan and the world desperately needs it and not a modified, more comfortable version.
I’ve found that knowing the Creator of my plan is the only way to be truly confident in myself. When you believe who He says He is, you will believe who He says you are (heyyy, Father Mike). That right there is the reason why I haven’t changed. It’s why I chase greatness.