These first couple months, though taxing, have actually been pretty okay. For the first month of college, I was feeling on top of the world, unstoppable, perfect. My classes were challenging but fun, I joined a whole slew of clubs, and I was attracting friends like moths to a lamp. I had confidence and pep in my step. I dressed to a tea and strut my stuff around with a big smile on my face oozing self confidence and acceptance. I felt great. For once in my life everything lined up. Everything fit. Everything was perfect. Or was it? And that’s how I knew something was wrong. Nobody is perfect. I was living in an “ignorant bliss”. I was blind to myself. This proverb “ignorance is bliss” is from an eighteenth-century poem written by the English poet Thomas Gray. He wrote
“Where ignorance is bliss, / ‘Tis folly to bewise.’”
This asserts the notion that having lack of knowledge will result in happiness, and that it is more comfortable not to know certain things. I believe the second half of this assertion to be true: that it is comfortable to be in the dark and unaware, like a baby. A baby is happy often with little care for the world because it knows little about it, and as the baby matures it becomes more dissatisfied with the world. However, this happiness, though pure, lacks reality. I do not find it to be genuine happiness.
I was feeling this happiness, this blind love that I realized was not only fake but also filled with ignorance. I believed a lie. Nobody is perfect, but why was I feeling this way? I wasn’t questioning this because I thought I didn’t believe I deserved to live a perfect life, but more so that I thought I may have been missing something. I felt in the dark, like I was missing something. I was blind to a part of myself and I set out to explore it.
After examining my seemingly “perfect” life, red flags began to pop up. I was constantly relying my dissatisfaction with my roommates. I was gossiping more. I was ignoring texts from my family. I envied people. I was less forgiving. Worst of all, I didn’t prioritize my relationship with God. I had this weird pocket of anger in the pit of my stomach. However, I didn’t notice any of this until I questioned myself. Until I had a conversation with myself.
I didn’t realize just how much I was hurt by my roommates. I thought I forgave and forgot, but that wasn’t the case in the slightest. Every opportunity I had to gossip about them I took. Even after I moved out, the wounds were still stinging. I began to swear, which is something I do not do or no do I condone it. I was filled with the anger that I assumed already left me. I am normally a very forgiving person, but this side of my was missing. I lacked grace. I was far from the person I believed I was. To many, this may seem okay and normal even, but I strive and have pride in being a gracious person filled with love and this is not what I appeared to be.
Recognizing this behavior was essential for me to move forward; however, it does not make these feelings go away. I disagree with the statement “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” Recognition is just the first step towards growth. Now that I acknowledged this negative behavior I have been on a healthier path towards forgiveness instead of assuming I was already on it. My reality was distorted, it was a lie that I made up and believed.
Another negative behavior I recognized was my lack of attention towards my family. My family does send excessive messages night and day, but this cry is something I did not understand. I am surrounded by people and even though I miss them, the pain that my parents feel is much deeper because they have nothing new to take their minds off of the loss of both of their daughters to college. My lack of attention towards my family is something that I am trying to work on, and even though I am very busy, that can not be an excuse to ignoring my family. I thought I was paying them enough attention, but I wasn’t. This red flag came in the form of angry texts. Texts explicitly saying: “How are you?”, I miss you”, “Call me.” Oh course I read them, but I did not give them much thought. Now that I recognize this, I have been striving to be more attentive to my family’s emotional needs instead of just my own.
“Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17).
The tenth commandment. An important law from God, and I broke it…break it everyday. I break it when I envy others: their possessions, their gifts, their relationships. I see what I don’t have and envy them. This of course is very natural , but also undesirable. I don’t want to be someone who envies, I want to be satisfied with my gifts and my talents. The worst thing I envy is other people’s relationships with God. I see how they live and I become jealous. I see their commitment and feel lesser. This sparked another revelation in me: that I had not prioritized God in my life and that is why I was having all of these problems.
This is when I was reminded of the four spiritual laws, the second principle in particular.
All of us sin and our sin has separated us from God.
“Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.” My shortcomings are my sins, which separate me from God. My life was revolving around me.
“He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30
I was like this image. I was only concerned with myself, focused on my own problems and only tried to fix them with my own strength. Everything I did was for my own enjoyment and pleasure. Yes, I believed in God, but he was not central to my life. Christ was just in another room in the house of my heart.
He should not just have access to the one room or ones that I selected, but he should have the keys to the whole house, my whole heart, my whole life
This is the life I want. This is the life that I did not have, but now realize I need. This is not just a better life, but a BIGGER life. One filled with more than superficial joy, but true love and knowledge.
I was living content with who I was and I was very happy, and now I am less satisfied with myself yet more content. Not knowing something is often more comfortable than knowing it; however, I am more content because I feel like I am playing the “real Athena.” The Athena that makes mistakes, that has insecurities, that isn’t always smiling. I am a more genuine person with a deeper understanding of who I am.
Yeah, I could still be living in that ignorant bliss where I feel on top of the world, but I wouldn’t be genuine. I value authentic people. Living in an ignorant bliss is not authentic, and I strive to live in reality and to be there for people struggling in reality too. I enjoy equal didactic relationships where both people are not perfect, but are going through the grind together and experiencing life for its fullness, imperfections and all.