As You Were

By Carolyn Shields

I used to always be hip a little too soon before it was hip. As in, I've always been a bit nerdy. High school: sweaters, thick glasses, obscure music (was Iranian pop too far off?) College: tucking tshirts into my jeans, working as a barista, and writing novels. Post-college: Cigars on empty parking garages (by my loner self) and listening to bands flooding out of the downtown cafes, panicking that I would never do anything right, and always, always wondering what was next.

Ah the sweet days of our youth! Of being twenty-three and stargazing the hell out of the sky in a cornfield. Of falling in love with all the wrong men, making beautiful mistakes, daring the unseen and acting like the youth we are.

And yet, admist that freedom, we put such pressure on ourselves to become masterful, accomplished, and so carelessly perfect. Our heads are hot, opinions strong, hearts open. We're reckless and bold. Our years? Few.

Womenfolk, as you find yourself on an uncharted territory of campus, or maybe in a new city with foreign lights, or unearthing a new little era, never forget that our Holy calls on the young. As Pierre Giorgio Frassati once said, "If the young won't do it, then who will?"

That restlessness, hunger, and fire is enough to start a revolution that can change your peers and your culture. A thirty-three year old man (maybe with a man bun on hot days in the carpenter shop?) changed everything.

As Pope Francis recently said at Together2016, "Young men and women, I know there is something in your heart that moves you. And that makes you restless, because a young person who is not restless is an old person. And you have youthfulness, and youthfulness breeds restlessness. What is your restlessness? Do you know what it is or do you not know? Do you want to know what your restlessness is? I invite you to find the One who can give you an answer to your restlessness.”

So I know you're busy as you push those glasses up your nose as you crack down on emails. I know your time is consumed by your studies and beautiful endeavors. But this is a challenge. How will you spend your youth. Where will you direct your restlessness and passion? Switchfoot croons, "Take the burden from my arms/Take the anchors off my lungs/Take me broken and make me one/Break the silence and make it a song."

You've got one life, woman, and only a few years of a golden youth. What will you do with it?

That's all I've got. As you were...or were not.