Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 23, 2024

My attempt to master forgiveness

By BUSE KOLDAS | April 11, 2024



Koldas rereads old journal entries and promises herself to learn how to forgive.

Reading old journal entries is difficult to begin. If you’re a person who has never been good at facing failure, like I am, it is dreadful. For the last couple of weeks, even the thought of rereading my old entries was enough to make me nervous. However, a few days ago, I radically turned off the switch in my head that was keeping me from doing this. I wished to reflect. I wanted to see my growth, the steps I had taken forward, if any.

Skimming through what clueless me wrote about occasions that bothered me in the past was unnerving. The descriptions of people that used to mean a lot to me, who became acquaintances I haven't heard from in months, break my heart. Old me makes me cringe with how anxious she got over such minor situations. She occasionally makes me mad, with how blind she was to things that are now immensely significant to me.

Halfway through the journal, just as I was feeling grateful that it wasn’t going as horrifically as I’d anticipated, I came across a sentence that I did not remember writing: I’m too ambitious. Too furious. Too unforgiving and definitely more vindictive than my grandma ever was.

I accept that criticism is tough for me to accept. From my teachers, friends, parents... however, looking back, I don’t think any critique I’ve ever received in my life has impacted me as much as this sentence. Hearing my past self describe me so harshly was poignant. It made my eyes tear up, and I closed the journal. I recognized that I had not changed a bit since writing that. Still too ambitious (maybe even more — ravenous for success, having and achieving it all). Still too furious (bottling up all that anger puts pressure on my trachea). Maybe worst of all, still too unforgiving (never letting myself forget and reach inner peace).

There I was, my journal beside me, spiraling, questioning if I’ll ever be able to forgive people, wondering if one day I’ll stop thinking that someone did what they’d done because of a vendetta against me. Will I ever be able to delete the lists I make in my head? Those mental jottings I store somewhere deep in my head, describing how certain people have let me down, just so I can keep my grudge alive and more active than ever?

Will I ever stop fearing to return more than I’ve been given by someone, reflecting like a mirror because I’m afraid to show I care? I no longer want to limit myself from doing, saying or spreading “good,” because I’m exhausted from suppressing all the affection I have in my heart by virtue of fearing that someone is undeserving of it.

I will be concluding my freshman year in a month, and I want to do so without regrets — but I need to learn to forgive for my regrets to dissipate. I want to have the agency to look back and not get irritated by my past self. I want to learn how to love those around me and make them happy. I want to avoid getting stuck on small disappointments. I want to learn how to let go. 

Deep inside, I know that I was made to love. There has to be a meaning to how satisfied I feel when I put a smile on someone else’s face; when I DoorDash my friend her favorite food; when I compliment the bracelet of a stranger; when I tell a peer how proud I am of them. I aspire to do what I was made for, yet I can not achieve this unless I fully forgive, forget and leave it all in the past. 

Due to this reason, today is the day I have forgiven it all. I typed and printed out the lists I’ve made in my head throughout the years, put them all through a strip cut paper shredder and burned the remnants.

May the upcoming months be a journey of learning the art of forgiveness and mastering how to spread my devotion, passion and kindness unconditionally. Once I accomplish this, once I forget and heal, reading old journal entries will not be as difficult.

Buse Koldas is a freshman from Istanbul, Turkey majoring in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and Computer Science. She is a Social Media Manager for The News-Letter. Her column discusses how her past experiences have affected her, with the hope of making others feel seen and understood.

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