Monday, June 11, 2012

In the Grey

by Project Interfaith Program Intern, Kaitlyn Hayes.

For a long time, I latched onto an identity because I thought it was necessary that I have one, and believed I’d be criticized if I didn’t. But the truth is, the identity I was claiming wasn’t really my own. Deep down, I must have known, or at least, I should have known, that this fa├žade was not there because I believed in it, but because I found it comforting. Being comfortable, in the end, turned out to be the last thing I really wanted. If being comfortable means that I may never confront and embrace the true desires of my heart, the opinions fueled by utmost passion, or what I believe to be truly important in life, I hope to be uncomfortable for eternity. This so-called comfort I thrived on created a false sense of security and hope that hindered my ability to really learn and truly live.

    Then came the best slap in the face I have ever endured; an epiphany that struck me like a weight of a million bricks, yet released me from the burdensome load I felt like I’d been carrying around inside. I don’t know if it was opening myself up to the beauty of other religions and beliefs through my internship at Project Interfaith, or if I had a learned to become more honest with myself, but it was then that I realized that life is far more than black and white and wrong and right. This turned my life right side up, allowing me to see the world more clearly.

    Complex and extraordinary, this world we live in is colored many shades of grey. How amazing it is to explore these hues and intricacies. Such a wonderful gift it is to be able to venture out into the unknown, to question, to explore, to enjoy. How blessed are those who have, and actually embrace, the opportunity to learn, to converse, to read, and to write. Communication with the world is beyond valuable; exploring oneself is crucial. Learning about others is to open your eyes to amazing beauty and diversity, while understanding and believing in yourself is, perhaps, one of life’s greatest joys.

    One of my life’s other great joys is being involved with Project Interfaith and our recently debuted, online video project: RavelUnravel is such an incredible opportunity to share and explore your own beliefs and the beliefs of others. RavelUnravel reminds us that it is okay to be seeking, it is okay to be Muslim and not believe the same things as another Muslim, and it is okay to be Catholic and not believe the same things as someone else who is Catholic. RavelUnravel helped teach me that I don’t have to identify with a particular religion and that I can have questions. Learning to accept myself, and all my beliefs and doubts, opened up my eyes and my life. I see such beauty and wisdom in those who know exactly what they believe or those who have strong ties to a particular religion, but I have also learned to honor the grey space that I now live in, and to really believe that this exploration is just as beautiful.

Kaitlyn Hayes is a program intern for Project Interfaith. She is currently double majoring in Sociology and English at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, with concentrations in Inequality & Social Justice and Language Studies. Kaitlyn is also pursuing certification in nonprofit management and leadership through the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. Through her time with Project Interfaith, Kaitlyn hopes to learn as much as she can about nonprofit work and the diversity of our community. She enjoys people, learning, traveling (when she can), writing, and reading.

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