Where I Found Myself
It’s my senior year of high school. I had four years of stress, good memories, and things I was willing to walk away from. I lost myself trying to make myself “perfect” so I would be able to fit in with everyone else. I didn’t know where I was able to go, and every step of my way I didn’t know what was happening. I have a great boyfriend that helped me throughout senior year which meant a lot to me. He showed me that I could find a way to finally be happy with myself for what I had. I never did believe him and thought “church” wasn’t it for me until I started CCD, or Confraternity of Christian Doctrine at St. Joseph Church in Waipahu. I didn’t know what to expect or what to do, but I knew that I trusted my boyfriend and wanted to see how this path would go.
Finally, it’s April 29, 2016. The day I get to experience my first actual retreat. It’s Friday, and I have four classes to get through. While in my period one, my best friend Dionna finally sits next to me, ready to learn psychology. “How am I gonna text you all weekend?! I’m seriously gonna miss you,” Dionna understood what I had to do over the weekend even though she believed in a different religion. “I hope that you can find peace within yourself this weekend” she tells me with a smile on her face. I got very happy inside knowing that she knows the troubles I’ve been through my whole life.
With what Dionna told me during period one entwined into my head hoping for a great weekend, even though I didn’t know what to expect. The day was going by so quickly, just like a blink of an eye. I was already packed for the weekend and ready to go to the church.
When driving in my car to go to the church with my mom, my thoughts and feelings were all over the place. My palms were sweaty with anxiety of knowing what might happen during this weekend. Everyone always told me that everyone cries at a retreat, and I honestly didn’t want to cry. While pulling up at St. Joseph, I park by the cafeteria to take out my duffel bag. I see my boyfriend, Chauncey, sitting down with his friends, so I go by them to wait to go to St. Anthony’s Retreat Home, where our retreat is.
After 20 minutes or so, we start to load onto the bus and head to Kalihi Valley. On the bus, everyone including me start, listening to music. I was tired from my day at school already that my eyes started to droop but I not could actually fall asleep because my heart kept pounding not knowing that would happen in a couple of hours. The bus ride was quiet without using my headphones inside of the bus even though it the wind was like roaring lions in my ear while the bus passed through the freeway. The weather starts getting colder and colder getting closer to Kalihi, I started to shiver.
When our bus finally got up to the retreat home, I saw someone come into the bus, asking for our cell phones. I knew this was gonna happen, but I died a little knowing that I wouldn’t be able to know what’s happening in the outside world and talk to anyone. I wasn’t really close to anyone at the retreat but my boyfriend. We gave our phones to the person on the bus and started to walk to the main hall. I never saw such positivity and happy people in one place. People took away my things, so I didn’t have such a load on me, and I could relax. I felt so taken cared of and the retreat didn’t even start yet. Everyone greeted each other and guided us to our rooms where we’d sleep for the next two days. My roommate, Devine, was also a participant. We both shared the same emotions and were scared of our room. “Kaitlyn, do you feel scared in this room? I always feel like something is watching us..” Our room was so small and had that old people smell that irritated our noses. After we got settled in, we walked downstairs together to meet up with the rest of the people who were at the retreat.
The next day two days were filled with people telling their stories about their faith. I didn’t feel lonely as I thought I would. I had many friends to stay with since we were all scared of the old retreat home. Being able to hear everyone’s stories and talk so freely about their personal lives made me not feel so “alone”. There was a girl who talked about how she had a broken family which led to her being depressed and when she put her faith into God, her family found a way to stay together. Another, a man told us about how he didn’t have friends and always tried to “fit in” with his peers but nothing worked and he didn’t know where to turn to. I never felt so free to talk about myself and my problems and hearing all these stories that I could relate to shocked me knowing that these were people that everyone at the retreat looked up to. This was the first time I felt like I didn’t need to fit in so hard and finally felt happy with myself and be able to make not just myself, but my family and friends around me happy. Knowing people found themselves being happy turning to church made me feel like I should re-evaluate my life choices and just trust in God the way everyone else her did.
After such an eye opening second day, it was finally the last day of our retreat. Everyone woke up early to take a shower. I went to go brush my teeth and shower, but once I got into the shower, the water was so cold, it felt like ice was pouring down my back; it made me feel so awake that I didn’t need coffee anymore. The last day of our retreat, our parents pick us up. We met each other in the main hall and started to write letters to my family. The last day of my retreat felt like the first day of a new life I couldn’t wait to start living because I finally am happy with myself.
Before our last event in front of our parents, we had to write a letter to thank our parents, Godparents, and Jesus. During the ceremony, I never felt so teary eyed. Seeing my mom made me so happy. I didn’t want the weekend to end so fast. While listening to everyone’s stories, I never cried so hard. My turn was getting closer and closer and my anxiety was going through the roof, and I was shaking. I had to talk in front of a big crowd where my mom and uncle (my God-dad) were waiting.
I didn’t even start yet, and I saw my mom already tearing. I started to walk to the podium. I couldn’t even start without crying. When I found my mom and uncle out of the sea of people, I felt so grateful. “Thank you for everything all my family has done. I thank myself to opening my mind to this retreat and finally being content with my life.” I finally finished my speech and there were people hugging me and telling me I did a great job. Never in my life I had felt so loved and confident.
Leaving the retreat home felt like I was leaving a part of me even though it scared the heck out of me. This event will never leave my mind and will always have such a great impact. After this retreat, I didn’t have the need to “fit in” with my peers in high school and I could finally stop comparing myself to other people which I already knew I didn’t need to. I felt so content and felt like I could make my relationships not just with myself but my boyfriend, friends, and family even better. My stress was finally out the door, I was relaxed, and now I could start being more positive in my life . I know not everyone may not find their way in this way, but I know everyone should always be open to all the possibilities the world has to offer.