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Why I’m Not Giving Anything Up for Lent This Year

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

I was raised fairly Catholic, but as life went on and my family got older, we started practicing Catholicism less and less. Personally, that is how I like it. I like to believe in something bigger than we are, something bigger than we are able to see. However, I do not agree with a lot of the Catholic Church’s beliefs. Not to mention, Catholic guilt is a real thing — and they continue to teach the religion in this manner to this day.

However, I still like to practice and believe in certain parts of the Catholic church. I still believe in redemption, helping others, a higher power, the importance of family, and more. One of the many things that fall in the realm of things I still do is lent. I really like the idea of lent: resisting temptations, sacrificing for the greater good, and creating better habits. I have given up just about everything you could think of — caffeine, swearing, candy, soda, fast food, Doritos — the list could go on and on. This year, I realized that lent is really about making changes that better yourself and others, and while that could be giving up a bad habit, it could also be creating a better one.

So, a few days before Ash Wednesday, I was trying to brainstorm some things I could give up — nothing was really coming to mind. Everything I thought of, I had either done many times before or it would be too easy of a task. So, I decided that this year I would do something instead. I started to think about things that would be meaningful to do that I could stick to for 40 days. I was having a hard time thinking of something that would make me a better person while also positively affecting those around me.

That’s when I started to think about what the world was missing. In my opinion, the world is missing love and appreciation for the individuals around us. We forget to support each other, tell each other what we love about a person, and tell ourselves what we love about ourselves. So, I decided every day for the next 40 days I was going to give at least one compliment a day.

I didn’t really put many restrictions on it. I wanted it to be freeing and feel good, not something that I constantly had to think about and strategize to accomplish. However, I did want to accomplish one small goal within my bigger goal. I decided that with every compliment that I give to someone else, I must compliment myself in return. It has to be something that I mean genuinely and something that’s meaningful to me personally. As much as society does not do a good enough job of spreading love and kindness to those around us, we usually do an even worse job at giving ourselves the love and kindness we deserve.

It is never too late to add something new to your lent goals this year, so try adding something positive on top of giving something up. Even if you aren’t Catholic, try implementing something positive into your everyday routine. I think we often forget how a change as small as compliments can create a big shift in ourselves and those around us.

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Jolie Leavitt

U Mass Amherst '25

Jolie is a Sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, majoring in Legal Studies with a Business minor. Some things she loves is reading, travel, female empowerment, music, and anything Harry Styles or One direction.