16 Mar TRYING TO FIT THE MOULD
When I was five, I went to church for the first time, only to be shocked when the priest began saying ‘Jesus’ in a positive context. I had never heard someone say the Lord’s name in a religious context and I didn’t understand how a word we weren’t allowed to say in my house was being praised in this sacred building.
Flash forward four years later, I began attending an Anglican school where we studied religion and had prayers three times a week. I enjoyed certain aspects of attending my religious high school and found the entire experience very enlightening – whether I was a religious person or not didn’t matter. What mattered was that I was growing a deeper understanding and respect for those who practiced religion.
I left high school identifying as what I thought was an atheist, but I delved deeper into my own religious identity and found my beliefs align more with agnosticism. Atheism rejects the view that any deities exist, whereas agnosticism acknowledges that there is no way to justify God’s existence, so the supernatural idea is unknowable. The two are similar in nature and many people interchange both of these institutions as they have many similarities. However, this identification is crucial to me as I don’t feel I fit into any mould of a religious group but want to feel the connection or specialness that religion provides.
I was not raised with religious practices in mind. I didn’t understand or even talk about religion with my family; whether this was intentional or not, I’m glad to carve my own path in life. However, I never felt connected to a higher power. As hard as I tried to do all the right things to feel that spark, I couldn’t. I always thought that I just existed as my own being in the world.
At age 20, I still don’t entirely understand religion but I understand my relationship with religion – we live as two separate beings who interact occasionally, but there is no connection or interaction in my life. People may question how I can confidently place myself at one end of the spectrum of religion, but after years of the same discussion in my mind, I feel as though it would be difficult to shape my life any differently.
The concept of spirituality, though, is relatively new to me. Being spiritual without religion is the idea that religion is not the sole means for spiritual growth. But I am still actively trying to determine if I am a spiritual person or not.
Quarantine and COVID-19 reintroduced the idea of self-care at the forefront of society’s mind. We went from being busy to being locked in our homes for a year now. This created a shift in values for many people and social media exploded with the re-emergence of spirituality and self-connectivity as a core value.
When I first saw people on social media meditating, journaling, and reading spiritual books, I thought I would taste the Kool-Aid. I thought if everyone else is doing it, why can’t I? Why shouldn’t I try and find that higher power that I’ve been looking for? But I still don’t get it. Every blogger, YouTuber, and influencer began posting journal prompts, meditating and reading books on life – this is not my wheelhouse at all, but I thought, why not try? It doesn’t hurt. I kept forcing myself to copy these strangers and I kept forcing myself to try to feel something I don’t know if I am ever capable of.
There isn’t one universal thing that people deem as the moment they knew they had found a higher power, but many people say they could feel a deeper connection to something larger than oneself, and that’s when they knew. I’ve never felt that moment where I knew that I found a belief system or higher power that would drive actions in my life. Maybe I’m wrong, and perhaps I don’t get it, but I’m still looking and trying to understand the entire concept of being spiritual.
I want more than anything to be spiritual or connected to something higher than myself, but I can’t get there. I don’t think about the unknown or reflect deeply. This has been an area of contention in my life for a long time.
My dad is an incredibly spiritual person; he can’t seem to wrap his head around the idea that my mom, my brother and I aren’t. We all have our own experiences and all vary in our degrees of spirituality, but my father is deeply connected to ideas that he believes are greater than himself. We continuously have conversations where I try to divulge my mind to determine how I think and what drives me. These conversations often go nowhere as I don’t feel connected to anything above me.
To preface, I use science and evolution and indicators of how our world evolved. But don’t get me wrong, I have for years tried to feel something, to feel that connection or understand how people can even understand religion as a concept, but I simply cannot. People will ask me, how is that even possible or do you not feel empty without it, but when you’ve never had something, how can you feel empty. How am I supposed to force something onto myself that I don’t understand?
There are ten different types of spirituality from different paths such as devotion, meditation, knowledge, and energy to the idea of social, intellectual, mystical, and authoritarian spirituality; there seems to be something for everyone. Although not everyone needs to use spirituality as a guide in their life as for some people, it doesn’t work with their path.
Still, they are all a personal, individualized experience with an encompassing goal: spirituality is a guiding force in dealing with everyday challenges and interacting with something bigger than oneself. For some people, spirituality is religion but for others, it can be yoga, nature, art, meditation and more. We see social media focusing on non-religious manners of spirituality, which has introduced an influx of journal-ers and meditate-ers who value their connection to their soul over anything. Influencers are trying to guide their followers through the practice of attaining spirituality.
The pauses in our world, due to the pandemic, have given people more time and energy to devote to their personal practices. I commend the many people pursuing a path in spirituality or developing a new, deeper connection to spirituality because it is a difficult learned process. But it’s one that not everyone can develop – I have found that I will never be able to understand spirituality on a personal level and I will only be able to listen to others’ perspectives, thoughts and understandings on the subject.
I wish more than anything that I could be someone who looked to a higher power as a guiding figure, but it’s foreign to me. Whether this is due to my upbringing, who I am in my core or just societal factors, the concept of spirituality in my eyes is one that I will never attain. Being an inherently spiritual or connected person is a trait that guides and shapes one’s actions; however, it’s not a mould that applies to everyone.