Bird’s-eye View

An Opinions Q&A Column Exploring Curiosities

Graphic by Mary Kroeck

Graphic by Mary Kroeck

Mary Kroeck

Q: The season of Lent is starting for Christians. I know we’re supposed to give something up, but I don’t know what to give up. I also don’t know why I should do this in the first place other than my parents tell me to. Any suggestions?


A Questioning Catholic

Dear Questioning Catholic,

The reason why Christians traditionally give something up for Lent is to emulate the suffering Jesus felt in the desert for 40 days. He didn’t have a smartphone to keep him busy or Amazon Prime Now to have food or material things dropped at his feet almost instantly. Granted, he probably could have. I mean, I’m Catholic and believe he’s the Son of God, so he probably could have gotten that figured out if he really needed to. However, Jesus fasted and sacrificed to prepare himself for his crucifixion.

Today, we give something up to reflect on his sacrifices. However, like Jesus in the desert, it shouldn’t just be about what we’re giving up and suffering for a little more than a month. It should be about how we’re able to improve ourselves and the world around us because of that sacrifice. So, if you give up eating chocolate for Lent, you probably shouldn’t just start using that money to buy bags of chips or more Swedish Fish. These days many priests believe in doing something positive over giving something up. The Christian thing to do would be to save the money that you would have spent buying chocolate over the 40 days and give that money to a charity.

However, what you do in honor of Lent should be very personal. It should be something that takes a little effort. Whether that’s giving up chocolate and giving the money to a charity or pledging to attend mass more regularly, it’s something only you can decide. The great thing about Lent is you’re the only one you’re competing against. If you falter one day, you can resolve to do better the next. You get to be your own little light and shine as an example of Christ. It may seem like a pain or a waste of time, but if you really get into it, Lent can be the start of lifelong changes for the better.



Q: I have an in-class presentation to do and I’m not a very good public speaker. I always feel like I freak out when I’m in front of a group of people. Is there anything I can do to not be so scared?


Mr. Stage Fright

Dear Mr. Stage Fright,

I never understood the whole “picture the audience in their underwear” advice. I think it’s rather creepy so I wouldn’t suggest going that route. I’m more of a believer in practice makes perfect–or at least close to it. First off, give yourself plenty of time to prepare your presentation. Make sure you are clear on the instructions of the presentation and ask your professor to clarify if you’re not. Then structure your presentation. Write it out and make sure your material is clear. If you’re unsure about your work and you’re doing the project well in advance of your presentation, ask your professor if you’re on the right track.

Then, practice. Write your presentation on note cards and read it out loud to your roommate, sibling or even your pet–cats will always give you honest feedback. If material needs to be memorized, I suggest choosing a method that works best for you–whether that’s writing it out 10 times or working with a friend to coach you on lines. As an actor, whenever I have to memorize a lot of text I will record myself and play the recording over and over again.

Lastly, once all the work is done, before you present, remind yourself that this is an in-class presentation. You are a student. You are there to learn. No one is perfect and it takes guts to stand up in front of your peers and disseminate information. Take a deep breath, have confidence in your work and share what you’ve learned. Class presentations can be nerve-racking, but they’re rarely as bad as we tend to build them in our heads to be. So grab your books, do your research, ask for help if you need it and you’ll be fine! Good luck!



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