Editor’s note: Today’s post is from Ed Nuñez, a sophomore at Creighton University and member of the 15-16 ISN Media Team.
I am a millennial—a term that is thrown around in much discourse today including politics, education, economics, and faith. We millennials are characterized by our use of technology, wanting to be the best, and staying constantly connected with one another via social media.
Like many of my peers, I have struggled with having unrealistic expectations of life. As a 19-year-old student who has many advantages in life, I sometimes feel that I have to live up to these self-imposed standards. For example, I worry about figuring out my life as soon as possible after college, given the social pressures to find your calling. But then I remember, this is my life, isn’t it? That’s where discernment comes into play.
Discernment is a term that, at first, seems like a difficult and grueling process that will take many years. For some, this is the case. Discernment is a lifelong process. And it can begin in high school, college, or even after college! For the average college student, discernment is something that we do without even realizing it. I have been at Creighton University for almost two years, and the discernment process for me began when I arrived on campus in August 2014. Since then, my discernment has taken many twists and turns, from deciding extremely early during my college career that I was going to major in business/marketing, then switching to international relations, and finally settling on justice and peace studies. At the same time, I am discerning a call toward joining the Society of Jesus after graduation.
How did I get to this point, you might ask? Here are the three most important things that I have done since being a sophomore at Creighton that have helped me discern my calling in life.
1. Have intentional conversations with a wide range of people.
One of the coolest parts of my discernment process so far has been talking to so many different people, including priests, spiritual directors, professors, friends, and family. The experience has taught me that talking deeply about what you might want to do with your life is very powerful and worthwhile. You receive new insights, new viewpoints, and most of all, support—and that is so beautiful. If you have support and friendship while discerning your calling, that is something to keep dear to your heart. So go out and have conversations, meet people from all walks of life and professions, and learn from them! Chances are their discernment process could be similar to your own.
2. Get out into the world!
Discernment also happens through action and experience. One cannot stumble upon a calling by just staying put and thinking about it. You need to go out and try new things. At Creighton, I have been involved in extracurricular activities, sports, faith groups, and service projects—and while I still am thinking about what exactly I want to do, these experiences have given me resources to start establishing my place in this crazy society we live in. So go try out a Christian Life Community, run for president of your residence hall, or try a class on pirate literature (trust me, it’s a great class). You never know what will spark your passion!
3. Make room in your life for prayer.
In a world that is hectic, noisy, and busy, taking time to pray and reflect on your own life is a must. As a young person, you are constantly surrounded by social media, entertainment, and busyness. Taking a few minutes at the end of the day to reflect is so important to not only your discernment process, but also to your well-being. I suggest the Examen, a daily prayer that St. Ignatius of Loyola used every day. It is a very short prayer that you can say at midday or evening to reflect on how God was present in your day, and how you can prepare for the next day. It is simple, beautiful, and worth it.
As a millennial growing up in an ever-changing 21st century, I have learned that discernment is a lifelong and daily process. It does not have a beginning or an end. And as a young Catholic, I know God will be with me through the next years of my life, and I will continue to pray that I and all who read this can have an enriching discernment process in the future.
For more tips and another reflection on discernment, check out this article from America Magazine.
About the Author:
Ed Nuñez is a sophomore at Creighton University studying Justice and Society and minoring in Theology. He hails from Milwaukee, WI and is a proud graduate of Marquette University High School where his passion for social justice and service began. At Creighton, he is a student coordinator in the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice and serves on the student leadership team for Creighton’s delegation to the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. He also helps to lead the Ignatian Advocacy Team at Creighton, mobilizing students and faculty to advocate on social justice issues in Nebraska and across the country, such as the death penalty and fair wages. His areas of interest include human rights, peace movements, non-violence, and human trafficking. In his free time, he enjoys running, music, planting, and gardening