When I was in high school and college, I was sometimes too afraid to attend clubs and events because I was scared that I would be the only one there. Instead of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), I had FOBA (Fear of Being Alone). Only later did I realize that my fear was keeping me away from experiences that I would have enjoyed and relationships that would have brought me joy. I am happy to say that I’m not as paralyzed by this fear as I was when I was eighteen, which is good, because I haven’t been accompanied by crowds or bands or classes in my formation, and when I made my first profession at the beginning of August, I was the only one to do so in my congregation, yet I have already found so much joy in this decision.
To quote a song from Stephen Sondheim’s musical, “Into the Woods,” “no one is alone,” and how true have I found that line since I entered religious life. Leading up to my profession, my congregation, the Adrian Dominican Sisters, gathered the sisters in our community who are 65 years old and under and invited Dominicans from other congregations to join us. During our time together, I was continually reminded of the gift that my fellow sisters are to me, and to the world, and I came away with the knowledge of our communal strength and the beauty of our relationships with one another.
At the center of all of our lives is the understanding that none of us are alone because each one of us is accompanied and guided by God, and this relationship has grounded me through the many changes that have swept through my life these last few years. As I have deepened my relationship with God, I keep receiving the invitation to deepen my relationship with others, and I’ve discovered how much my relationship with God is tied up with being in relationship with others. My relationship with God keeps pushing me to new places and new people, even if I’m uncomfortable and afraid, and I can’t help but think that God wants us to know how amazing the People of God really are. With the new school year, I’ve begun a new ministry at a high school. I am learning a lot about my new ministry, but I am also learning so much about the students who I encounter. I’m enjoying learning how the students can be funny and quirky and sweet, and I’m remembering how unsure of myself I was when I was their age. I’m realizing that my heart is opening up to these students in love. This is, after all what God desires from me, because it is by being the recipient of love from those around them that these students will also learn that there is no reason to be afraid of being alone, because of the web of relationships that surround them.