College: Trouble relating with fellow Catholics

I am 21 and attend a major university in Colorado.

I’ve never really fit in with the “jolly-go-get-em lets hold hands and sing” types of groups. I am a somewhat introverted person who prefers two or three REAL relationships over a group of 30 “friends”. Weird I know. It gets worse. I prefer silent retreats over a summer camp style retreat with songs by the fire and dancing and the occasional outburst of tears during a late night group prayer session.

There is a candlelight mass (with some latin!) offered twice a week here and it is by far one of the most incredible ways to celebrate mass. It is just not the right place to be trying to meet people.

My inability to associate with the group on a whole left me looking for friends anywhere. Most college freshmen are concerned with only one or two things. Partying and not failing classes. I was attracted to the party scene out of curiosity as I had no prior exposure to it. Like I said, not a lot of challenges thrown at me in high school. Drinking with a group of people turns almost all of you into friends despite most differences. I enjoyed this and continued doing it. I did notice that I had a harder time hanging out with them during the week because my faith and their atheism (generalized but for the most part true) prevented us from being TRUE friends. I eventually found it easier to simply hang out, watch tv and go to the pool without ever really having to commit myself to the relationships. My ability to ignore the error in my ways was long lived: 3 years. Had you asked any of my “friends” to describe me Catholic would be the last word used. Not to say I was propagating evil, I just never truly said what was on my mind in situations a true catholic would have.

Now that I am done with the drinking and smoking (thanks to God’s grace) I am trying to get back in with the “Catholic crowd” I find it harder than ever to relate. Most of them have never spent one year, let alone three, partying. They seem to not know how someone can even do it. They think people who smoke weed act like Cheech and Chong yet the times that I smoked often lead me to reflect on my life, beg God for forgiveness and pray for his mercy. We simply do not understand each other. I assure you, I wish I still had the innocence that they have. The fact that I don’t makes them hard to hang out with.

The majority are engineering students who have no exposure to what the other 99% of the college is like. I very much want to return to campus to minister to Catholics like me who give in to the temptation and get lost in their own little worlds like I did but I can’t do it alone and I can’t relate to the one’s I would need to help me do it.

Any advice? Can anybody relate? My fingers hurt now, sorry for the novel.

~Denver kid

FWIW you may consider focusing on the things you do have in common with your fellow catholics, your faith! and letting the other stuff go..try not to base your relationship with these fellow christians on whether or not they can relate to your "wild oats" days..

focus on them more and you less and i think you will be fine :)

[quote="inspector_2211, post:1, topic:278026"]
I am 21 and attend a major university in Colorado.

I've never really fit in with the "jolly-go-get-em lets hold hands and sing" types of groups. I am a somewhat introverted person who prefers two or three REAL relationships over a group of 30 "friends". Weird I know. It gets worse. I prefer silent retreats over a summer camp style retreat with songs by the fire and dancing and the occasional outburst of tears during a late night group prayer session.

There is a candlelight mass (with some latin!) offered twice a week here and it is by far one of the most incredible ways to celebrate mass. It is just not the right place to be trying to meet people.

My inability to associate with the group on a whole left me looking for friends anywhere. Most college freshmen are concerned with only one or two things. Partying and not failing classes. I was attracted to the party scene out of curiosity as I had no prior exposure to it. Like I said, not a lot of challenges thrown at me in high school. Drinking with a group of people turns almost all of you into friends despite most differences. I enjoyed this and continued doing it. I did notice that I had a harder time hanging out with them during the week because my faith and their atheism (generalized but for the most part true) prevented us from being TRUE friends. I eventually found it easier to simply hang out, watch tv and go to the pool without ever really having to commit myself to the relationships. My ability to ignore the error in my ways was long lived: 3 years. Had you asked any of my "friends" to describe me Catholic would be the last word used. Not to say I was propagating evil, I just never truly said what was on my mind in situations a true catholic would have.

Now that I am done with the drinking and smoking (thanks to God's grace) I am trying to get back in with the "Catholic crowd" I find it harder than ever to relate. Most of them have never spent one year, let alone three, partying. They seem to not know how someone can even do it. They think people who smoke weed act like Cheech and Chong yet the times that I smoked often lead me to reflect on my life, beg God for forgiveness and pray for his mercy. We simply do not understand each other. I assure you, I wish I still had the innocence that they have. The fact that I don't makes them hard to hang out with.

The majority are engineering students who have no exposure to what the other 99% of the college is like. I very much want to return to campus to minister to Catholics like me who give in to the temptation and get lost in their own little worlds like I did but I can't do it alone and I can't relate to the one's I would need to help me do it.

Any advice? Can anybody relate? My fingers hurt now, sorry for the novel.

~Denver kid

[/quote]

I don't think I have much in the way of advice, but I can relate: I didn't attend college, but I spent 10+ years living a neo-Beatnik lifestyle, replete with smoking, drinking, every drug known to man (almost), and all other sorts of immorality. Add to this my taste for more avant garde literature, art and music, and I have been having a hard time adjusting to the Catholic life. I've pretty much ended contact with most of my friends since reverting to the faith. Luckily, the best friend I ever had, who I abandoned when I began pursuing that lifestyle, and is also a Christian, though not Catholic, has been a true example of God's mercy, forgiveness and love. Even after barely speaking for over 8 years, he readily forgave and embraced me and welcomed me back into his life. But, he's married now and all, so I'm still on my own most of the time.

I also suspect I have Asperger's Syndrome, which doesn't help. Still, I maintain the hope that God will bring new friends across my path eventually. But if not, I've got all I need in Christ and His Church. :)

I wish you the best on your journey, and hope God sends some good friends into your life as well!

[quote="inspector_2211, post:1, topic:278026"]
I am 21 and attend a major university in Colorado.

I've never really fit in with the "jolly-go-get-em lets hold hands and sing" types of groups. I am a somewhat introverted person who prefers two or three REAL relationships over a group of 30 "friends". Weird I know. It gets worse. I prefer silent retreats over a summer camp style retreat with songs by the fire and dancing and the occasional outburst of tears during a late night group prayer session.

[/quote]

Oh jebus! I am filled with nausea as you describe the "let's hold hands and sing" and "occasional outburst of tears" crowd. I'm 26, so uni is behind me now, but your experience is familiar, although after becoming an orthodox Catholic some time during uni, I only started living more like a Catholic one or two years ago.

My inability to associate with the group on a whole left me looking for friends anywhere. Most college freshmen are concerned with only one or two things. Partying and not failing classes. I was attracted to the party scene out of curiosity as I had no prior exposure to it. Like I said, not a lot of challenges thrown at me in high school. Drinking with a group of people turns almost all of you into friends despite most differences. I enjoyed this and continued doing it. I did notice that I had a harder time hanging out with them during the week because my faith and their atheism (generalized but for the most part true) prevented us from being TRUE friends. I eventually found it easier to simply hang out, watch tv and go to the pool without ever really having to commit myself to the relationships. My ability to ignore the error in my ways was long lived: 3 years. Had you asked any of my "friends" to describe me Catholic would be the last word used. Not to say I was propagating evil, I just never truly said what was on my mind in situations a true catholic would have.

Now that I am done with the drinking and smoking (thanks to God's grace) I am trying to get back in with the "Catholic crowd" I find it harder than ever to relate. Most of them have never spent one year, let alone three, partying. They seem to not know how someone can even do it. They think people who smoke weed act like Cheech and Chong yet the times that I smoked often lead me to reflect on my life, beg God for forgiveness and pray for his mercy. We simply do not understand each other. I assure you, I wish I still had the innocence that they have. The fact that I don't makes them hard to hang out with.

You sound a bit like me. I can't relate to most faithful Catholics either. They're just too... well-adjusted. I mean, most can't relate to the messed up family situation I've had throughout my life. And sex, alcohol, weed, amphetamine, opiates and cocaine were a regular part of my life for quite some time after I became an orthodox Catholic, although I was never wholeheartedly into these things because I too am rather introverted, though quite good at simulating extroversion.

Most people I call friends are actually friendly acquaintances who are atheists or agnostics, but of my truly close friends, one is an atheist and one a lapsed Protestant deist, and the latter is so close I'd trust the guy with my life. Neither are part of the party crowd and both are quite introverted. They're not kumbaya touchy-feely mugs either, and so they're actually quite down to earth. And personality-wise, they're a lot more like me, so in practice, we have more to offer each other in terms of support and understanding. And despite sin and all, in a secular sense, they are really, really good guys.

Much like what you said, the "friendly acquaintances" don't really know I'm a practising Catholic - though they know I'm some sort of theist and Christian sympathiser. My closest friends are well aware of my Catholicism and accept me as a Catholic and know me from before I became a Christian. And when my atheist friend suggests that we go and eat fish because it's Friday, I know I've got a good guy on my hands. So, I mean, I couldn't ask for better friends, and the difference in faith is not much of a barrier for me. At least I can relate to these guys.

So I don't know what to say, really. I can relate to being unable to relate to Catholics, but it's not a problem for me. I was secular before I became Catholic. I have only ever had secular friends and I could never relate to Christians, but I'm not too bothered by it because my close friends who are secular have shown me a decade or more of loyalty and are better friends to me than most of the Catholics I've met are likely to have been. With regard to close friendships, I'm more concerned with loyalty, strong principles and reciprocal concern for my well-being than I am about the religious beliefs of the person. If I chose to hang with the Catholic crowd, it would most likely be on the "friendly acquaintance" level and I don't think I could be fully comfortable. I've never had a "goodie two-shoes" sort of personality, and even though nowadays I strive with God's grace to be holy, I think I will always feel more comfortable around those with whom I share a mischievous (which doesn't necessarily mean sinful) personality, and it just so happens that most people I've met who I can relate to on that level are not Catholic.

However, we naughty but orthodox Catholics certainly are out there, as your post indicates. But in my experience, having close secular friends should in no way impede you in your faith provided they respect it. Not all secular people are uninhibited hedonists verging on alcoholism, so in your shoes, I'd feel free to hang out with people who I felt most comfortable with, provided they weren't a negative influence. But I can't really give more advice than that.

I can definitely relate. Although my journey has been different, right now I’m in the same boat… struggling to relate well with the Catholics here on campus. Anyways, it’s obviously pretty hard to meet people at any type of Mass. But, most college parishes should have other stuff going on. If there’s any meals before or after Mass I would go to them. And, just look for some group meeting to check out, or something to get involved with through the Church. I know that’s probably easier said than done.

I’ve been lucky bc I’ve going through RCIA and have met people through that. But, for like a whole year before that I really tried to make some Catholic friends and it was really difficult bc it seemed like they all already knew each other and were “clicque-ish” and didn’t really talk to other people.

And, although I do know what you’re talking about there being a lot engineers or people who have been in the “Christian bubble” all their lives; I wouldn’t worry too much about not relating to people because they all appear to be saints. lol. I mean, I know a few people who are both active in the Church here and in the party scene… so at least you’re not doing that lol :smiley:

Anyways, you’ve just got to hang out with people and do Catholic stuff with them like go to Mass or pray the Rosary together or something. If you want to get a group of people to minister to people on campus then try to turn the conversation onto spiritual things more and ask them if they’d be interested in it. I know I’m gonna be a lot more involved in the goings on in my parish next semester, after I’m confirmed.

And BTW, don’t take it for granted how many Catholics are at your school (whether they’re living the college lifestyle or not). We only have 2 Catholic Churches in the town where I go to school.

-An Alabama kid.

Going to a secular college and being a Christian regardless of what branch you are from can be a royal pain in the butt especially considering there aren’t a lot of young practicing Catholics in school. I have a few suggestions, why don’t you contact your diocese and see if it is aware of any student groups in your area. Even if you have to attend a student group in a different college, it shouldn’t really matter.

In terms of being accepted by other Catholics, I think you also need to ask a deep question: are you ok with the crowd, with the things you did when you went away from the church during those three years. If deep down you aren’t ok, you might want to consider forgiving yourself and then if you feel called bring it into the confessional, between the two, it might free from things from your spirit that will help you embrace your Catholicism as well as open the doors towards acceptance into your community.

That said, I think the church needs to embrace diversity and who knows maybe your story might inspire others to either return to the church or it might encourage other Catholics to avoid the party scene all together.

I hope this helps.

I converted when I was 20. I had Catholic friends, but it was difficult to find ones who were really serious about the faith- and faithful to the Church's teachings. At that age, I find that Catholics have either fallen away from the faith or they simply do what their parents did, which may or may not be right. At that age, it is very difficult to find Catholics who have made their faith their own. Be thankful that you have, and pray for those who haven't. It does get better. As people start to get older, many who were once very superficial realize their own mortality, and contemplate life in a much deeper way- and that is reflected in their friendships.

I can totally relate to your situation (even though this is a late reply to this post). I lived a very sheltered life in high school as well and when I got to college, I experimented with some things in an effort to be “accepted” by others. However, I felt so extremely empty doing these things and decided to rededicate my life to God. And so I began to hang out more with the Catholic group on campus.

Let me just tell you: you’re not alone! There are many introverted young Catholics out there just like you and the more outgoing ones can sometimes make you feel uncomfortable. I can totally relate. My advice to you would be this-find a group of people or even just one person who is in a similar situation to you that you feel comfortable enough talking these things through with. Ask them to go to mass and pray with you. True friendships are amazing and I would choose one good, true friend over a million ‘okay’ friends any day. And I’m guessing you would too!

Everyone discovers God’s love in their own way. While I regret many things I’ve done, I can look back and appreciate how God worked in my life throughout the tough situations. I’m grateful for the path that led me to Him because it was a very personal journey.

Be thankful for all the lessons you have learned and pray about your situation. It will get better. God knows your desires and intentions and they seem pure and honest. I will pray for you!

After reading your original post, these lyrics from Mumford and Sons kept repeating in my head:
You told me that I would find a hole,
Within the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal,
And all the while my character it steals
It seems that all my bridges have been burned,
But, you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works
It’s not the long walk home
that will change this heart,
But the welcome I receive with the restart

Hope this helped, and that things have gotten better since your original post! :slight_smile: God Bless!

Excellent advice.

Additionally, don’t underestimate the other kids. You don’t know the details of their lives. Unfortunately, they all have their own regrets and mistakes. Living the faith is a struggle for everyone. We all make mistakes. Even though your paths may have been different, you and your peers share a common ground of trying to live faithfully to Christ.

I also am in college and do feel frusterated over similar issues at times. I would consider myself very orthodox and in line with the Church…it’s sad because the majority of practicing Catholics at my school still pick and choose their beliefs. It is hard to find Catholics who accept the Church’s teachings on papal infallibility, contraceptives and the sanctity of life…just to name a few issues…This can be very lonely at times. I just try to use this time to cling to Christ and share his message. The Truth is something to be shared.

People are young in college and many are immature. Maturity comes with living on your own and supporting yourself. In college, rebelling against religion and other things is just part of the growing up process. When you lack maturity, it seems like a good thing to do many things that you wouldn’t do if you had the experience to know how it would turn out.

In college, you are looking for a niche. You need to find that small group or individual that shares what you believe. I would remain friendly with everyone but be careful with who you develop a close relationship with.

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