I was born May 18, 1987 into a family with a practicing Catholic father and a non-practicing Lutheran mother. My father raised my sister and I Catholic. We attended St. Rita from pre-school until eighth grade. On Wednesday s we went to mass with our class and then on Sundays we went to mass with our father. We never got a Sunday off to sleep in unless my father worked late the previous night or had to go into work early the same day. Religion was always a chore to me. During our religion classes I was always taught at and not to because I chose not to listen. I never got good grades and I never intended on putting in a full effort to read and do homework in that class. I always received an average of C or less. After learning about what Jesus did his entire life for so many years the class became boring and eventually loathsome.
I grew up knowing this as the only faith around. I knew about the Nazis and how they wanted to exterminate the entire population of Jews and I knew that the Communist China practiced Buddhism. I didn’t know what they did at their Church. I didn’t know how they were raised in their beliefs. I was only told that there were other religions and I never got to experience them.
After so many long years at a Catholic school I plunged right into a public high school against my own wishes. I had grown up with a class of twenty-five kids and I was moving onto a class of 600. I admit that I was scared and nervous. I felt like I had my safety net stripped from me and was now entering uncharted territory. There had only been one black family to attend St. Rita so I wasn’t accustomed to the various colors of the teenagers at my new school. I lived in a “white” neighborhood and the only thing I knew about other races is what I saw on the news in the evening at supper time. The only people displayed were murderers or have committed a crime. I only knew other races to be wrong-doers and I didn’t want to associate with them. I was not racist, I was only naïve.
My sophomore year attending this school I had made a couple good friends. I still attended mass on Sundays because my father woke me up every weekend. This year was more of my “experimentation” year. I met new people that introduced me to alcohol and drugs. Howard was the first person to offer me his resources. He offered me something new in my life. I am not proud of this year of my life but without it I don’t think I would have had the courage to learn other things. I wanted to learn more about everything in the world. Religion was the first topic on my list. I was always interested in any books I found. I related mostly to atheism. I read more on that than any other subject. I decided that I was an atheist and I loved to talk about it any chance I could. I would argue with anyone that told me “God Love You.”
I attended CCD classes at St. Rita to please my father because my mother told me I’ll get money when I completed them. CCD is Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. I took these so I could be confirmed. I started acting out in these classes and I stated my opinion frequently which, in turn, displeased the teachers. I was only ever asked to leave the room; I was never punished for speaking my mind, which is a good thing of course. I never hated attending these classes because my friends were attending also. We played games and it wasn’t always about religion. It was like a social meeting place for the kids that attended a public high school that didn’t have religion in the curriculum.
We had to attend Confession twice a school year. I always tried to skip out on these days. My mother wouldn’t let me. We were forced to confess anything and most of the time I was only sorry that I never did what my parents asked me to do for chores at home. One particular Confession day I stood up for myself. I told the teacher “I don’t want to go to confession because I know in my heart that I have committed a mortal sin and I am sorry for this. The Bible says that Jesus forgives people who know they have sinned and will make the change that they need in their daily lives. I don’t need to tell a priest my sins if I have already been forgiven.” I was told that if I didn’t confess that my parents would receive a call and that I would be able to get confirmed. That was the moment I never wanted to live the rest of my life in the Catholic faith.
I was living as a practicing Catholic with atheistic views. I was a hypocrite every day of my life. I am not an atheist because I do believe that there could be some major force directing our lives every step. I am also not Catholic because I do not believe in one God alone. I am, however, agnostic in the fact that I acknowledge other religions and do not condemn people for their beliefs. I know that I will not spend the rest of my life supporting an entity that I do not know exists. I will not take time away from my studies and my family and friends to find out if something does exist. In the end, if a higher entity does exist, and if I should be condemned to Hell for my choices, I will know in my heart that I have lived to be the best I could to be.
In allowing myself to “screw up” in my sophomore year I have allowed myself to receive a small taste of failure. In retrospect I view that year as the year I found myself. I know what I want in my life and I go for it. I feel that attending mass was always a routine and I never cared to continue. I have more time to see the world now. I have a broader perspective of what is going on in my life and the lives of others. I have more time to secure myself in my surroundings and be able to give myself the time to attain my goals. I plan on attending graduate school after I have obtained my Bachelors Degree.
My father stopped waking me up for mass when I turned eighteen. I’m not a train wreck either. I have just finished attaining my Associates Degree in IT-Networking at Milwaukee Area Technical College in May 2007. I landed a job as an IT-Analyst for an insurance company in Milwaukee after working three years in customer service. This job is only an internship, but I will learn much working here. I also got accepted into University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for fall 2007. I will be entering the school as a sophomore. I plan on double majoring in Biology and English with a minor in Business Administration. I have recently started beading. This is where I make bracelets and necklaces. I also am interested in scrap booking. I have played tennis all four years of high school and I practice recreational now. I’ve always been more interested in the art than anything else. I love to sketch. I have recently been more interested in writing and this is why I am going to double major in English. It is a dream of mine to write a book and have it published. I want my words to be read by others and I want to be a hero.