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"Assessment center feeling" - do you know that?


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Dear fellow discerners and possibly sisters/brothers on the other side of the vocation discernment table, I have a question for you: Recently, I was on a weekend visit to a community I'm discerning with. This was my second visit, first time was at another house, now I met and talked with the novitiate leader and some other sisters. Things are a bit difficult with me, since I'm over 50 and they have no experience with someone of my age joining them - they made clear that they would check me out more carefully than someone younger. So, while I was there I constantly tried to "be my best", to present myself well, offering my help, being nice to everyone etc. And the thing is that I did this somehow "too much", I wasn't authentic - which the sisters noticed. I felt like I was on a two-day assessment center where my every move may be analysed and interpreted to my advantage or not. And I even noticed this while I was there, but couldn't help doing it! I know that I should trust God and leave matters in his hands, and also that such a visit is a time for me to discern as well as the sisters - but I even tried to ask "good discernment questions", as if I was in a job interview!

I would love to be more authentic and less in "job applicant mode", but how do you get there? I am rather good at job interviews, but obviously this ability to present myself well now works against me, since the sisters understandably don't want a good presentation, they want the real me. I have been told by a friend to tell the sisters that I am afraid of being told "no" at this early stage, so that they can see that I understand my behaviour and can reflect on it. Do you think this is a good idea? Do you know this from yourself? What would you recommend doing?

Dymphna

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Isn't that a factor in postulancy?  Everyone starts with what is thought to be one's best behavior, but it's only after the "party manners" are discarded, which takes time, that development really begins?

Same thing happens in marriages, btw.  It is what happens AFTER the honeymoon that matters.

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JHFamily, yes, that sounds similar to what my friend recommended. I'm sure that I will become more relaxed once I'm more familiar with them. And, yes, Antigonos, this certainly is an aspect of postulancy. Only currently I have no formal status and they are not sure if it makes sense to let me become their oldest candidate ever. So there may not be many more visits. I guess to some degree this is about saying "Well, God, I'm doing my best. It's far from perfect, but it's the best I can do and the rest is up to you."

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  • 2 months later...

Understandable that you were nervous, uptight and anxious! (not your usual self)  Who wouldn't be in some form or another?!

I certainly was on my first come and see!

I even went over all my "notes" and questions that I wanted to ask before while I was on the airplane!  I think my over exuberance was abit alien to the sisters! LOL  

Try and not be so negative; (which can be difficult)  and more along the lines of "faith" that the sisters will have understanding!  For to judge you on only one visit, I would have to think twice about joining such a community in the first place. 

"If God leads you to it, he will help you through it!" ;-)

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Thank you, nikita! They actually proposed to me that I should come and stay with them a little longer, because hopefully I can't be nervous for a whole week :-) So I got another visit to look forward to!

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On ‎1‎/‎4‎/‎2020 at 10:17 AM, Dymphna said:

Thank you, nikita! They actually proposed to me that I should come and stay with them a little longer, because hopefully I can't be nervous for a whole week :-) So I got another visit to look forward to!

That is wonderful news!!! I'm praying for you!! :-)

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  • 5 weeks later...
Catherine Therese

Prayers assured for your next visit.

I haven't been in the situation where I've discerned when I was 50, because I haven't quite hit that milestone just yet. I have in my own travels, however, felt something that sounds a lot like what you describe!

Might be worth personally reflecting upon attachment vs. desire as you prayerfully prepare for your next visit. 

We all know we are created with desires that are beautiful (and often helpful in our discernment, too.)

When we develop an unhealthy attachment to a particular outcome, that is when our desire sort of gets a little too much of a hold of us and we feel the need to "take control" rather than to "receive what is being freely given". It's subtle and it's the easiest and most natural mistake to make, but the behaviour of "trying to hard" and trying to meet some unspoken standard can often arise from that need to take control, to try and ensure a certain outcome. 

This could totally NOT be what is going on in your case - I don't know you from Eve! :)  

At any rate, it might just be helpful taking that question of "am I so attached that I'm seeking my will and forgetting to keep listening for His?" to prayer. 

Edited by Catherine Therese
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sr.christinaosf

I would suggest surrounding the whole visit with prayer, don't worry.  Hopefully, you have someone you can trust who you can talk to through this process.  Also, if a community says 'no,' that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Be honest with them, and upfront.  I would initiate any conversations by asking if they take "belated vocations," so you don't waste your time with communities that have an age cut-off.

When I was exploring communities, I had a related experience in that I have a vision impairment and a medical issue.  I was upfront and made sure that communities I contacted were even open to candidates with the above before I went any further.

 

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I visited a community twice. They were great! But, the first visit,  I did notice a bit of what you are talking about.  I think that everyone was just kinda nervous and "on good behavior" being super polite and all, the first time. But by the second visit, we all felt like family and kinda let our hair down more.  (well, you know what I mean lol.  They are all in full habit so no hair showing! :))  But it was in a good way, I thought.  We all were more jokey in the kitchen the second time.  So maybe just go again and see if things lighten up a bit? It might be a good sign. I don't think what I experienced was wrong. I think it was just human nature.  We all liked each other and really wanted things to work out, so we were being really nervous.  But the second time things got more relaxed, in a good way.  Maybe just go again and see if you can get to the next layer of familiarity? IDK? 

 

Unfortunately, I have an impediment that prevents me from entering any community right now, so I'm where God wants me (for now!) and I won't be joining that community other than for extended retreats.

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