Hello, I’m Sam, and I like hugs.
If there is one word that properly describes my life, it is rejection. Allow me to start with some background, I was born and raised a cradle Catholic. Catholicism was all around me, it was the primary religion in my culture however, because of this, it was very much taken for granted by my peers, family, and even myself. In a culture that doesn’t make their religion a priority, it was very easy for me to lose my identity as a Catholic (If I had one in the first place). And so I grew up following this religion I really knew nothing about, going to Catholic school for 14 years, from Pre-K to 12th grade.
As a child I started developing what I’ll call a robust body shape and began my awkward stage of childhood. This started the series of rejections that seemed to follow me for the rest of my life. It started with my peers, rejected by them, that kid that no one wanted to sit next to at lunch time, yes, that was me. I was the kid that wanted to play all the sports and games with everyone else, and was the last one picked; rejected from their teams as it were. As I grew, and started gaining an interest in the opposite gender, I faced more rejection. The kid that sat in the corner at dances, the kid that would join a group of his friends only to have them “suddenly” decide to sit down and leave me there, yes, I was that kid too.
Put someone through this on a day to day basis over and over and eventually that kid becomes a poor cynical kid. I had my faith with me, but it was always on the back of my mind, it was never expected of me to make it a priority, so not knowing any better, I never ran to Jesus when I was hurting, I just didn’t know how. Naturally by high school, my faith was shaken, rejected by every niche and clique I questioned why God would leave me all alone like that. This feeling led me to poor choices in high school, I went through two disastrous relationships with people I had no business dating and hanging with the people I should not have been. By far the biggest blow to my pride, the coup de grace, the potent cherry on top of the rejection sundae that seemed to be my life, was my Senior Year of high school, where I was rejected from every single University that I applied to.
Crushed could only begin to describe what I felt. I was absolutely depressed for the entire summer. I felt more like more of a failure than I ever had at that point in my life.
I was essentially going through the motions of my life, when one day late in the summer, I received a phone call. It was from Baylor University, they called to let me know that I was now able to receive admission if I still cared to attend. I nearly flipped. While I made the decision admittedly more difficult than it needed to be, I attended.
Being a new freshman, I searched eagerly to find somewhere I could belong. My brother, a graduate himself, introduced me to St. Peter’s. I was instantly attracted by the homey feeling, but was still cautious of meeting new people. Then came block party, the day I truly got to meet the people at St. Peter’s, and I was instantly greeted with a loving and caring community, one like I have never experienced. It was honestly the first time I ever felt accepted, by people who wanted me and cared for me. I joined the Knights of Columbus and found a welcoming group of men, and for the first time in my life I had true friends.
At St. Peter’s I rose from the “cafeteria catholic” that I was, and learned more about my faith and truly delved in. With so many knowledgeable people I quickly learned why we believe everything that we believe as Catholics, and why I should be more than willing to follow whole heartedly.
Finding this home away from home did not make the rejections go away, they all still come from time to time, but, when trials come and problems arise it is through this place, this home, this family that I can always draw my strength rely on to pick me up every time I fall down.