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Living your fourth

| Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Before college, I was able to participate in a Kairos retreat. Kairos is made up of small groups, facilitated by student leaders and supported by adult leaders. These groups are strategically created to split up cliques so that new friendships and understandings can be formed.

Throughout the retreat, each leader presents a talk that involves intimate experiences, stripping away numerous unseen layers, and challenging each participant to examine their own faith. While taking in these profound testimonies, I was left with a renewed faith and a new perspective on life. Following the three days, I left Kairos with a promise to “live the fourth” (LTF), constantly challenging myself to grow in my faith through interactions with those around me.

For me, part of LTF meant supporting others by attending another Kairos as a leader. After spending this retreat trying to communicate to my peers that no one is perfect or should feel as if they have to be, I was ironically convincing myself more and more that this message was exactly the opposite of what was expected of me.

I developed a false sense that I needed to have it all together. I was going to college soon, a new world of people who have somehow figured out how to transform into “perfect,” self-sufficient adults. When I arrived, I found it challenging to LTF in a college environment where various distractions and pressures emerged. With growing expectations, I started feeling overwhelmed, insufficient and in fear of letting down those closest to me.

Although it may be a challenge to “have your life together,” or to perfectly LTF, it’s an even bigger challenge to find just one other person who legitimately “has it all together” as well. And that’s perfectly okay. I felt so pressured by expectations of others in my life, that I’d forgotten it was myself who was responsible for allowing these expectations to have influence over my faith and happiness.

While at college, I have slowly made more decisions for myself and my own happiness than ever before. This includes smaller things such as the activities I choose to involve myself in and bigger things, such as major intention.

It’s definitely beneficial to consider the opinions of those who are important in your life. In the end though, you are not your parent, your sibling or anyone else. There is no exact paradigm you must follow. You have to do what feels right for yourself.

The future undoubtedly holds many challenges and uncertainties. Each day there are countless ways to LTF amidst all this chaos. Whether it’s taking advantage of faith-filled opportunities, or banding together with friends, your fourth you choose to live is entirely and wonderfully up to you.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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