Edit Desk: To old souls


I attended my first professional sports game in middle school when a friend invited me to see the Yankees play. While I don’t remember much of the game, I remember the person sitting next to me like it was yesterday.

Her name was Sister Linda — a nun who felt very passionate about baseball.

After a game filled with confusion (on my end) and excitement, Linda grabbed my hand and said, “You have a very old soul.”

My friend and I giggled at her comment and brushed it off, and I never thought of it again.

Now, I know Linda was on to something.

When I was 4 years old, I had a piggy bank dedicated solely to buying a house. Whenever someone gave me money and asked what I was going to do with it, I replied, “I’m saving up for a house.”

By 13, I got my first job, knowing that if I had any nonessential expenses, I would have to fund them myself. Since then, I have not stopped working minimum wage jobs, whether during the summer or after school and on weekends.

In high school, I drank four cups of coffee a day to counteract the three hours of sleep I had the night before. My day was filled with countless hours of AP this and honors that, on top of striving to be president of any organization I could. I barely took time to rest, and relaxation practices like watching TV were out of the question.

As I look back on these years, I realize I did most of this not because I wanted to, but because I felt I had to.

Growing up with a single mother, I understood from a young age the hardships that come with financial difficulties.

I watched my mother struggle to pay the bills, drive me to extracurriculars and put food on the table, all while trying to get help for an autoimmune disorder in a country that prioritizes wealth over health.

My heart hurt from seeing this, and I swore to myself I would live a life of peace and stability.

I always felt a responsibility to be a success — to pull myself out of financial instability and give back to my mom for all she had done for me.

So, I grew up fast.

Independence and hard work became the core pillars of my life. I felt the only way out of the situation was through academic success, and I diligently constructed a plan to become a productive machine rather than a human being.

I got myself into Lehigh with a scholarship and financial aid. I thought that from this point on, the road to success would be a lot less bumpy.

However, coming from a rural, relatively small town in northern New Jersey with a median income of $44,995, my understanding of the middle class was a lot different before I came to Lehigh.

I spent my first semester in shock at how much wealth was available to those around me — and how I couldn’t compare.

I didn’t have the money to stay up to date with constantly changing trends, indulge in local restaurants, Uber myself around or do virtually any activity that cost money. I spent much of my time with my roommate bonding over feeling out of place at Lehigh.

Beyond this, I was shocked at the lack of importance so many of my peers felt toward their academics. I could not fathom how someone paying $50,000 in tuition would decide to never go to class. I had worked so hard in high school so that I could have the opportunity to go to class at a university like Lehigh. How could someone else take that for granted?

By my second semester, I decided to rush a sorority in an effort to make Lehigh more comfortable. Joining this group brought me my closest relationships and empowered me to reach out of my comfort zone on campus.

However, I still felt out of place — and out of money.

I couldn’t afford the sorority dues, let alone the countless merch orders and other expenses. My work study could fund my dress for date parties but not the fake tan and nails my sorority sisters indulged in.

With time, I realized my life would always come from a place of less privilege. The only way I could maintain my sanity was to not hyper fixate on the differences between myself and others.

That’s when I started to seek out similarities, and my Lehigh experience changed completely.

While it may have seemed I was alone in being a low-income student at Lehigh, I simply had not met many others yet. As I became more involved in different organizations on campus, I bonded with dozens of students who had a similar background as me, and I realized I wasn’t alone.

With this, I realized I am grateful for all of the experiences life has brought me because it has formed me into the person I am today, and I am proud to be that person. That alone is enough to make the road less bumpy for this part of the journey.

So yes, Sister Linda, I do have an old soul. No, it’s not by choice, but I’m not alone in it.

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1 Comment

  1. Fr. David Kozak on

    Thanks for the words of WISDOM!
    Age can bring wisdom, if it is done right. Your words seem to indicate that you are “wise beyond your years!”

    Keep up the search for truth! I am glad you ran into the nun. She is from my religious tradition. That traditional (in it’s better timed) affirms that search. Regardless of chronological age!
    All the best in your reflections on life.


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