Have you ever gone to a theme party and then realized that you are the only one dressed in a costume and everybody else decided to ditch the theme and come in casuals? I have been there once and I can testify how foolish I felt. I was the subject of everybody’s conversations and in a ‘not so good way’ they could not keep their eyes off me. After being ragged for years together for that one incident, I had managed to get past it and had forgotten the terrifying experience till I had a similar experience in college.
I experienced God and his love for me in an extremely intimate manner when I was studying in college and the instant response to this experience was to share it with others. Soon after I attempted to do this with my college friends, I realized I was wearing the costume all over again (figuratively) and everybody was there laughing at me. History was repeating itself or just that I had not picked up the cues correctly the first time.
Then after spending a good amount of time trying to decode the mystery of the dress code, I finally realized that the problem was not me but with the rest. I was the one who was actually ‘with it’ and the rest had decided to go against what was actually supposed to be done. My misconception that I was the weird one led me to try fit in or be accepted with the majority. The idea of standing out or being set apart from the others was freaking me. Therefore I went on to believe that majority is always right.
If people at my college thought that listening to music with extremely dark lyrics and to artists who have problematic credentials is the cool thing or that abusing is acceptable or getting into a ‘fling’ with a girl/boy is cool, we tend to believe that it really should be that way. But in doing so, we all end up missing out on the main point, ‘We all are wearing casuals to a theme party.‘
God has invited us to a theme party and this invitation is open to all but not everyone dares to say yes and dress up accordingly to enjoy the party; many just end up wearing casuals because it is the safer option. These casual wearing people represent the lukewarm Catholics who have no depth, just superficial belief. What they miss on is the joy of wearing the costume and having fun at the party. They miss on the joy that actually radiates from giving themselves completely to God. They are so consumed with the idea of being safe and accepted in the group that they forget the one who actually matters is the person who has invited them.
Three steps in which you can dare to wear the costume at college:
- Wear your Faith
Wear a rosary, scapular, religious articles, medals etc. Wear your faith, not as a fashion statement or with an attempt to show off how pious you are, but to let it remind you of your commitment to God and that you need him always. Wear your conference T shirts and spread the word to all.
- Speak your Faith
If Jesus is important to you, then I do not see why you should hesitate to mention him to your friends. When I say speaking about Jesus, I do not mean you sit there and give your friends a daily dose of catechesis but you testify and share how God has been working in your life. You can talk to your friends about the community, invite them for the community programs and encourage them to see Jesus in their lives.
- Live your Faith
This is the most crucial, most difficult and the most convincing testimony any one can give. Living the faith is a real challenge. But in the words of Don Bosco, “God rewards based on your efforts and never on the results.” Living the faith is transcending the mere religious talk to actually living out the theology. So stop copying during exam, downloading pirated music and movies, abusing, getting drunk, flirting etc. and you will see how your life becomes a motivation to others.
College life these days is tough and with the way things are going, it seems like being Catholic is more of a challenge among youth these days. If you are a Catholic it is okay; if you are a practicing Catholic then you are perceived to be not so cool. What we must remember is that we were not created to be cool, rather we were created for greatness.
Our religion should not end up becoming just a question on the college admission form but something that shapes our values, beliefs and lifestyle in college. Remember, Life is a theme party that God has mercifully and lovingly invited us for, the prize at the end will go not to the one who fits in but to the one dressed in the best costume.