Turning point

Several weeks ago, I started a blog entry that I never finished because I felt it was going towards a dark place I didn't really wish to explore. Here's how it started:

My friend Donna turned 27 this week . I would like to feign indifference to this number but there seems to be a collective agreement among everyone that make it more than just a number or your average birthday. It is one o'clock in the morning and I am wide awake, partly due to jetlag and partly because of this creeping despair about the future.

I would like to postpone dwelling on these thoughts but I've always had a low emotional quotient and have never been very good at delaying gratification. Or in this case, resolution.

27 What's in a number? Years ago, I started on a path that I thought would lead towards somewhere different from where I am today. In my naivete, I had always imagined myself a writer, a poet. I had promised myself that I would write ferociously to fill my hunger for words, to test the limitless boundaries of writing, to weave stories that have never been weaved before.

And here I am now in an apartment in New York faced with books by Amartya Sen, Jeffrey Sachs and William Easterly, equipped with my newfound understanding of economic graphs and charts. I am not complaining, mind you. This is certainly not a bad place to be in. One can only be grateful. Yet it is so completely different from what I had imagined myself would become that I cannot help but feel doubt at times.

Doubt. I know that I like having control over the things that happen in my life to a point that it frustrates and stresses me out when I cannot. And so the 180 degree turn that life has taken has made it clear that no matter how much I try, one can never be fully in control. This, I find troubling. And at times when the world around me quiets down, this, I find frightening.

This realization that I have no complete control over the direction my life may take is frightening especially since I barely have any idea of where I might be in the next 4 monts or so. 

Here, allow me to continue:

These days, doubt and fear of the uncertain future has grown, like thorny vines crawling out of my chest and slowly tightening its grip around my hands, feet and neck. Well, there's a happy image for you. Truth is, without going into too much detail, I've been hoping, even expecting to get a particular internship in a development agency. This internship is in fact what brought me to Fordham, to New York. And now, each day, the fear and knowledge that I might not actually get it grows more potent, more real.

This fear has plunged me to a sadness I haven't felt for a while. And in one of those days, when I felt immobile and glued to my bed, I began to rummage through the sadness. I re-read my application essay for the internship. In it I said that this internship was a way for me to use my skills and knowledge to serve the marginalized. It was a service driven by a deep gratitude to the One who has given me the skills, knowledge and opportunities I have now.

Here I find comfort. Sure, I will be utterly devastated when the day that I find out that I didn't get the internship comes. But, still, there is room for joy. One rejection should not diminish any desire for service. And if my gratitude and desire to serve is as deep as I believe it is, then I should be open to wherever I will be sent, even if it wasn't part of the original plan. There's not just a room, but an entire football field for joy. 

Rejection, sadness and disappointments have ways of stripping us naked of the unnecessary things we build around ourselves and revealing the heart of our desires.   Fr. Arrupe said, "Fall in love, Stay in love, it will decide everything." And hopefully, it will give me enough courage, too.


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