Sarah Ajih: Sophomore Business Major at The Catholic University of America
One day I was sitting in the chapel on our campus and looked over and saw pictures they had put up of all the RCIA members joining the church this year and I recognized one girl from my business class. Literally the next day I saw her walking around campus and her outfit was so on-point that I couldn’t help but stopping her to compliment her on it. After that I saw her everywhere around campus and knew I would have to feature her after Easter, and I was so right. Sarah is the kind of girl who is just so authentically herself and an inspiration to women like me who struggle with that every day.
Upon first coming to CUA she never felt the desire to fully become a part of the Catholic Church, “What deterred me from the church was feeling like I was different, and coming to CUA I felt that even more. I mean I’m a minority and on top of that I don’t dress typically as others here dress. I felt like an outcast.” She saw a church community that she thought was beautiful and that she wanted to be a part of but couldn’t see her place in that community. “I think what inspired me to finally start RCIA was one of Fr. Jude’s (our university Chaplin) homilies about accepting people into the church community at CUA and I thought, I should be a voice and show people that someone like me can be in the Catholic Church and still keep my same beliefs, like being a feminist. That doesn’t change anything about me. I wanted to be that voice for people who were too scared to make that leap of faith.”
“What deterred me from the church was feeling like I was different, and coming to CUA I felt that even more. I mean I’m a minority and on top of that I don’t dress typically as others here dress. I felt like an outcast.”
Upon first joining RCIA she was intimidated by the hours of commitment and the mass amount of information she had to learn but as she continued to go each Sunday she found that it was a saving grace, “I’ve learned so much about the Catholic Church and how to pray, which has been so helpful to me because I was in a dark place when I joined the program. It’s been nice to know there are prayers for me to pray when I’m feeling low or down on myself, it’s a way to motivate me. I just wanted my spirit to be alive and free. Easter vigil was the culmination of all of that. It felt amazing to feel like I’m in this community with people who all share the same beliefs as me.” It’s knowing she is loved by God the Father that has helped her through the darkest moments and He has surrounded her with the most beautiful people to support her here on this earth.
“I feel like my spirit has been reawakened. I was in a dark place and God has always been a light in my life but going through this process, relating with other RCIA people who have felt this same darkness, is proof that we can come back from it. We are not dead.”
“I feel like my spirit has been reawakened. I was in a dark place and God has always been a light in my life but going through this process, relating with other RCIA people who have felt this same darkness, is proof that we can come back from it. We are not dead. There was a joy I was afraid to feel and through my faith I’ve learned that it’s okay to feel that. It’s okay to feel sadness. It’s okay to be in pain but at the same time you can rise up from that. That’s why my faith is so important to me, and I want to share that with my family. Yes, I’ve made mistakes, I am human, but I’ve grown so much and there is this fire inside me that keeps burning through in the image of self-love which is something I lacked for a long time. It’s nice to be able to love myself so then I can give myself to others and God.”
“Once you let people define you then you lose yourself, so that’s why I decided that I’m going to do me for the rest of my life.”
And, this fire is so evident when you talk with her. She is so fully living as a daughter of the Light, proud and firm in her beliefs and unafraid to share them. “I’ve had racist comments said to me, not on purpose but just out of ignorance, and the old me would have lashed out but the new me is like, ‘wait a minute, let me teach you because you were taught the wrong way.’ I don’t take it personally because that’s when I get down on myself. I try to see the best in people and show people who I am. I’ve had job interviews where they expect one thing and I open my mouth and they get something completely different. I like impressing people like that, proving people wrong and I want to encourage my sisters and friends to do that. Because, once you let people define you then you lose yourself, so that’s why I decided that I’m going to do me for the rest of my life.” Sarah took the time to get back to her roots, to know where she came from, so that she can help people in a way she never had growing up. She just wants to encourage people, especially women, to know that you don’t have to be a stereotype. Live confidently and people will love you for who you are.
“‘God made me who I am and I may as well show that I love myself.’ Anytime I get dressed if I don’t 100% love it I take it off. I have to feel super confident in my outfit.”
As for fashion advice from one of the boldest women I know, “How I glorify God in my dress may be different than most people. I mean if you got it flaunt it. I’m not saying dress risqué in class, but I used to be that person who wanted to be size two and now I see that I am curvy and I’m going to wear things that accentuate that. I used to wear things that were over-sized to compensate for not being skinny enough or because I had stretch marks. Now I’m like, ‘God made me who I am and I may as well show that I love myself.’ Anytime I get dressed if I don’t 100% love it I take it off. I have to feel super confident in my outfit.” This reminded me of LifeTeen’s advice on dressing, dress in a way that highlights the beauty of the feminine form but not in a way that allows people to disrespect it.
As for actual fashion tips, “I take models and celebrity inspiration, and maybe not even take their styles, but how the exude themselves. Like Beyoncé, I don’t dress like her, but she does things that people would never do with fashion. Like, who would embroider their face on a dress and wear it at a concert? Yet, if she can do it then what’s stopping me? I also like Rihanna because she is starting trends that you didn’t think would be trends and I want to be that kind of person who starts a trend or someone sees and goes, ‘oh I didn’t those two patterns could go together.’ So, I really try to push the boundaries, and not every time it’s successful but that’s okay and I keep trying to show people that you have to be a cookie cutter person.” She gets inspiration from YouTube or Pinterest and creates something unique and beautiful.
“Life is too short not to make yourself uncomfortable. There was a time when I felt dead inside and now that I feel alive again I’m not going to waste this time worried about people judging me.”
Sarah is just so beautiful and listening to her story has been such an honor. Some closing advice that everyone should know, “Life is too short not to make yourself uncomfortable. There was a time when I felt dead inside and now that I feel alive again I’m not going to waste this time worried about people judging me.”
Make sure to keep Sarah, and all those who have recently joined our Church in your prayers.
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