How service helped me find joy and fulfillment
Freshman year, I wanted to do it all. Any chance that I could spend time with someone else and do something for them, I took it. But, despite these amazing relationships and experiences, I felt empty and I didn’t understand why. I
am someone who comes across as calm, cool and collected. I often get told I am incredibly laid back and seem like I have my life together. I guess that is why a lot of people tend to come to me for advice. I think most people who know me would be surprised to learn that I am an incredibly anxious person.
I always thought I could manage anxiety by just ignoring it, but, that method started taking a toll. I wasn’t happy and felt empty all the time, even when I was doing things I know I love, like service.
I have always liked to spend my time serving others. Starting with the Philadelphia Service Immersion Program (PSIP) when I was a freshman, I have continuously been involved in experiences that allow me to build relationships with others. It wasn’t until I became a Placement Liaison for the Faith Justice Institute to work with the Service Learning Program that I started to feel more fulfilled everyday.
Service Learning courses stem from the Faith Justice Institute, founded in 1977. The Faith Justice Institute “serves the University as a center that promotes social analysis and critical thought around faith and justice issues,” according to its webpage. Starting my role as a Placement Liaison my sophomore year, I was partnered with seven organizations that students would go to for service. Every semester, I visit with the organizations we are partnered with to go over logistics, build relationships and serve if possible.
That semester, I felt a bit more like myself. At first, I attributed it to being a sophomore and feeling a bit more comfortable on campus. The feeling of being myself developed when I was off campus visiting community partners for work.
I learned that sometimes I need to take a break in order to feel more fulfilled. Instead of getting trapped in the bubble I sometimes felt when I was on campus, I got to go off campus and work with organizations such as Providence Center, Inglis House, and Sacred Heart Home. All these organizations have different missions, but the same goal to love people for where they are at. I felt that love and I carry it with me everyday on Hawk Hill.
Of course there are some days on campus where I feel down, alone, and unhappy. But that is what makes us human. And because of the challenging days, I have learned to appreciate those days where I feel alive and full, so much more. When my energy is high, I can be there for others in the best way I can. But on those days where nothing seems to be going right, I take a step back. It isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but from taking that break amid the bad, I can fully embrace the good.
I love Saint Joseph’s University and being on campus. But through being a Placement Liaison and having to get off campus to visit the communities we work with for service learning, I realized I needed to get off campus and take a break from the hectic environment and replenish energy within myself. I found that there is a whole lot more love I can spread on campus, in Philadelphia, and wherever I go when I take a break and learn to love who I am.