We cannot just say that young people are the future of our world. They are its present; even now, they are helping to enrich it. Young people are no longer children. They are at a time of life when they begin to assume a number of responsibilities, sharing alongside adults in the growth of the family, society and the Church. Yet the times are changing, leading us to ask: What are today’s young people really like? What is going on in their lives? Pope Francis Christus Vivit
What is going on in the lives of our young people? What are their hopes, dreams, aspirations, questions? How do they experience resilience and love? In this newsletter, I have received permission from several Year 11 students to share reflections they submitted in a recent task from the Search for Meaning unit they have been engaging with this semester. I am encouraged by their responses and privileged that they shared their hearts with their teachers, and with their college community.
Mrs Anne Armstrong
Religious Education Coordinator
The recent pandemic has been a time in our lives where hope was needed most. Like many, I believe hope got me through the hardship of long hours stuck inside, with the thought of seeing my friends and extended family again. I felt frustrated, miserable and alone. I felt as though it would never end, and these feelings would stay forever. It took all my strength to get out of bed, as all I wanted to do was to hide until this miserable, painful event passed.
Forcefully spending time away, only made me cherish being with them even more but in reflecting on my experience, it gave me time to understand myself and my purpose. Envisioning the future motivated me to stay strong during lockdown. I knew that although I couldn’t physically end isolation any faster, I could be proactive in using self-control and reflection to choose how I respond in the situation (Covey, 1989). Instead of becoming stressed as many of my friends were, I discouraged irrational thoughts and focused on hope.
Hope leads us out of the past into the future. In a TED Talk in 2017, Pope Francis talked about hope as something that we get from Jesus and then spread to others to help them believe there is more to life than whatever bad things they are dealing with in their lives. He said: “To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope. Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naive and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness, that doesn’t dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow.”
Daniel van der Platt
I always been motivated to be a good person; to love people and to make people happy. I believe this was influenced by my Mum, as she taught be to always be kind and I also imitated her own manner. However, as a teenager, it is easy for me to become distracted and forget the meaning behind why I need to be a compassionate person. I am reminded of the importance of making my time on this earth worthwhile. I have also learnt that the answer to the question “what it means to be human” is in front of our eyes. To live our life, with no second thoughts or worries and to love everybody in our lives with all our heart, is what it means to be human.
Karen Young shares ten things that display the beautiful imperfectness of being human:
- Everyone is scared or afraid of something
- Everyone feels insecure sometimes
- We all experience the pain of a broken heart
- Everyone has experienced a great loss that has changed them
- Everyone will experience being disappointed by a loved one
- We will disappoint our loved ones
- We will compare ourselves to our peers
- We all have secrets
- We all have regrets that have changed us
Karen Young’s words empower me.
RESILIENCE AND FAITH
When hardship arises, I can be thankful and use it as an opportunity to grow personally and connect with others. In times of struggle, In the words of Psalm 147:3, “He heals the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds”. This quote has provided me with great comfort and reassurance in the face of struggle. I know God has a plan for me, and everything will go according to his plan, no exceptions. So, when sickness arises, people walk out of my life, things don’t go how I expected, I know God is in control and there is a reason behind it all.
By being resilient we improve by learning from our mistakes There have been many times where I have struggled with school work, or not happy with my result or been rejected by a sports team but I have learnt it is not how many times you get knocked down, it is how you respond. I play competitive cricket and there have been times when I have not been selected for representative team. I learnt the hard way that it is your reaction to the bad news that reflects your character. Instead of being down on myself all the time when I am not selected for a state team, I asked my coaches how I could improve, what I could do better to get me selected next year. I took their advice and put in extra hours to work on this criticism. I dedicated extra time at the end of training sessions to work on my batting one on one with my coach to improve my skills. I started completing regular fielding drills at home to work on my reflexes. This made me feel as though I was working towards something a gal and it made me feel as though my actions and my life had purpose.
For me, it’s so difficult to endure pain, to be scared or to suffer and to see the good that can come from out from suffering. Any time I have experienced loss, or I’ve suffered, it’s been hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel; to tell myself that it will be alright and that something good can come from the pain that I have experienced. but something good can come from suffering and I think that’s so important, especially as suffering is such a fundamental part of being human. When I think about my meaning and purpose in life, I’ve learnt I can know that my pain is part of something bigger than just myself. That it is part of Gods plan for me and that my suffering will bring something positive into the world no matter how small.
Lately, the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic has left me feeling defeated. Before the outbreak, I had been working so hard on aspects of my life like sport and school. For me having my favourite thing (gymnastics) ripped away from me has felt very demoralising. It made me feel like I had nothing left, no sport or opportunity to hang out with my friends, initially I thought all my hard work has been wasted. Feeling sympathetic for myself lead me to use the challenges as an excuse for to be lazy. I found myself in a cycle of trying to BALANCE schoolwork and gymnastics training at home but ended up feeling defeated and giving up.
“Easter isn’t cancelled” announced the Queen in her recent message focusing on finding hope during an unprecedented time of death and suffering. The queen sees hope as something that is brighter than the darkness of death. “May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.”
The Pope said, during his Easter address, “They, like us, had before their eyes the drama of suffering, of an unexpected tragedy that happened all too suddenly,”
Their wise words are encouraging, they challenge me to find hope in daily life celebrating the things we take for granted. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son” John 3:16 Celebrating the sacrifices Jesus made for us, being thankful for his guiding light through life can remind us of our meaning.
Because I was undiagnosed with dyslexia, I had many people telling me that I shouldn’t want to be a teacher. I had people from my own family saying, “how could you be a teacher if you can’t spell or write or read or do basic maths?” Whilst, at the time, this was quite a true statement, I didn’t give up on my dream. After many years of trying to be who others wanted me to be, I finally became tired of it. I became tired of not liking me and not liking my friends.
After moving to high school, I gave myself a fresh start. I made amazing friends and my grades made a complete turn. And now, I have realised that being who I am, and having my own goals, have given me direction and a sense of my own purpose.
I have learnt that there is no point people pleasing. If I cannot love my self, then how can I expect others to love me. Even though I am only 16 and my path is bound to change thought my life, I am on a path that is my own and that is all I can do.
I’ve often thought because I’m not highly religious, I can’t have a “full” relationship with God. But listening to Martin Luther and Denzel Washington has opened a door in my thoughts about God. My connection with God is different to the person next to me, and their connection with Him is different to the person next to them. It will take time and effort. I know I won’t always feel like connecting with God, but I know He will always be there for me, which is something I hope to strengthen. I believe there are many forms of God. I know some people believe in God from the bible, others believe in God as a friend, someone they can turn to. I think this is a really important step in my search for meaning and purpose, because at times when I feel alone, I know God is and will always be an option for me, even if I make mistakes.
I have always felt a sense of appreciation for nature, family and the good in the community. Being raised in a Christian house and attending church each Sunday, I was taught of the importance of love and being thankful. Exercising those teachings as I matured, I began to feel connection with the world, a sense of awe of the world. I remember doing charity work with my family at our local church and feeling a sense of community and love which was followed by an emotion of awe and wonder. It provided me with a feeling of belonging.
Harry Ryan Baker
Experiencing God for me is trying to find something greater than myself, attempting to obtain meaning and purpose in life, I try to find this purpose through meditation I try to connect my soul and body together and try to find my meaning. Experiencing God is something we all need to do at a point in our lives, it allows us to believe in something greater than ourselves; and allows us
to believe in something after death, I believe we all need to believe in science, religion or a type of philosophy, believing in something gives up morals and values.
The words of Pope Francis have stuck with me and I have found myself thinking about the need to let myself be loved. Letting myself be loved is one of the best things I can possibly do because love helps heal many issues and relationships.
CONNECTING WITH OTHERS
I am grateful for the good people I surround myself with. The experiences I share with my friends and family have provided me with a sense of purpose in my life, I have learnt that forming valuable connections is what connects me to a sense of purpose and meaning, as when nothing seems to be going ‘right’ or how I had planned, I am reassured that I have friends and family that support me no matter what, and having valuable connections with them provide me with a sense of identity when it seems as though I have nothing.
I believe that in order to determine our meaning, we require a balance of social and personal meaning to see the ‘bigger picture’ in our lives. The support from others during this search of identity, meaning and purpose can guide us during this extensive journey and create a deeper sense of what our values are and how we live these.
FINDING MEANING AND PURPOSE
I did not realise how important experiences like awe and wonder were to the search for meaning and purpose. By experiencing wonder and awe you increase your awareness of the world around you and in doing so increase positive emotions and build a better version of yourself. Personally, I see my meaning and purpose as, to build the best version of myself while positively impacting the world around me. Ultimately people who experience more awe and wonder will have the capability to look beyond themselves and better see the world around them.
I believe that to be human is to think, analyse, learn, to want to improve and want to understand. This belief is what drives me in my life. I gain meaning and purpose from learning, thinking and wanting to know and understand what is going on around me. If I am ever in doubt of my worth, I can apply this understanding and insight of what it is to be human to my life, to consider how I am the product of 10s of 1000s of years of evolution and that my purpose and meaning is to live and to be human.
Josh Mc William