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Dymphna

"Assessment center feeling" - do you know that?

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Dymphna

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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JHFamily

I think the more time you spend with the sisters, the more authentic you will be.  Surely this wasn't just a one time deal.  If it was, maybe you can just suggest that it may take a couple of visits so that you can relax and be yourself.  There's nothing wrong with saying, "I just wasn't relaxed and was afraid I was going to mess things up.  I think I'll become more relaxed as I get know you, and you will be able to see the 'real me'."

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Antigonos

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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Dymphna

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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