Why I Didn't Make A New Year's Resolution.
This picture is of me holding a goat, affectionately named Prestige, on the top of a Haitian mountain. I hadn’t showered (by American standards…) in over a week. I was wearing no makeup and had worn that same shirt in and out of the river countless times that week. It was pouring cats and dogs on top of that mountain. We were drenched, but we had just completed our task of putting up a canvas tent for a prayer service the next day. So we went outside the tent, danced in the rain, singing and shrieking and jumping because of the beauty of the view and our happiness. We held the baby goat. We held Haitian kids. We hugged each other. We laughed and ran around barefoot in the pouring rain. And then the rain cleared, and the most beautiful sunset radiated through the misty mountains. As shown by my authentic smile in the picture, I was feeling the most authentic joy I’ve ever felt. I loved life. I loved where God had sent me.
I almost didn’t go to Haiti. I was supposed to be at Dr. Jane Goodall’s NYLC Summit that week. The Summit was cancelled, so I applied to do a backpacking climate change research trip that week in Alaska. I got rejected, and I was heartbroken that my summer plans were “ruined.” But that rejection was a door closing so a greater door (Haiti) could open. I had no idea that I’d be singing in the rain on a Haitian mountain. I had no idea that my experiences would show me how to truly live.
I learned in 2017 that the doors that God opens are far greater than any door I could ever open for myself. I never know what’s around the corner. I’ve taken leaps of faith these past few years. By entering ProjectCSGIRLS, I achieved many awards and opportunities, and it led me to my provisional patent on the Green Highway Project. Going to the March for Life for the first time led me to win a scholarship to Discipleship Week #1. And, that time at Discipleship Week gave me my current best friends and truly changed my life. I take one little step and God floods that step with goodness beyond what I could imagine.
Last year, on New Year’s Day I outlined in my journal unrealistic, perfectionist, and far-fetched goals for my academics, activism, running, and prayer life. I completed some. I failed at others. Ultimately, I needed to give up on some of the goals because they didn’t fit my life halfway through the year. For example, I made a goal to pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day, a mildly unrealistic goal for a high schooler. I was going strong until Haiti in August. God finally convinced me to let go of the strict set prayers and the security blanket of the pattern and rhythm. He convinced me to abandon the perfectionism and come to him like a child. Just me. Simply. No crazy routines or aspirations for perfection. To love Him and converse with Him like a father and his beloved daughter, as it should be.
I’m breaking the cycle of perfectionism, goal-setting, and routine. Every day is different for me because I surrender it to God. Some days I’m researching climate change, other days I’m serving homeless drug addicts, and sometimes I’m speaking at CatholicTV. Routines and goals are good, but this year, I want it to be different, and I encourage you to do the same. Unrealistic goals disappoint because they’re our plans. God’s plans never disappoint. In my religion class last week, I was forced to write myself a New Year’s Resolution, so I wrote “At the end of 2018, I want to be closer to Jesus than I was at the beginning.” To me, that means being closer to joy, closer to love, closer to peace, and closer to who I really am. That’s my only goal.