Check Yo’ Self

Check Yo’ Self

Let’s check in.

It’s been about a month. For some of you, the move was cross-country, to a towering building full of other bright-eyed, slightly-quivering first-years. For others, the move was as simple as picking up your boxes from the storage room and lugging them up to the new apartment. Either way, there was a move, a transition–a replacement of the norm. Things shifted, and until the dust settles, it’s impossible to get an accurate layout of the new land.

But it’s been about a month. The dust has settled. So let’s check in.

If you’re like me and many other people, you made a resolution or two when this impeding shift appeared on your radar–you had an agenda, consciously on your mind, of some things you wanted to accomplish. My classes actually don’t begin until Monday (quarter system what’s good), so I have yet to implement any of my resolutions or agendas, but I’ll share with you some things that are on my mind. Your resolutions are likely–and ought to be–different, but hearing mine may give you a schema to understand that about which I’m speaking.

  1. I’d like to get on a much better sleep schedule this year. I really struggle with sleeping sometimes, so it’s important for me to clearly define when to put screens away, when to be in bed, and when to wake up. I get a lot more done this way, and it’s healthier.
    1. In conjunction with this resolution. I hope to pray more. Having a schedule for getting to and getting up from bed should allow me to cordon off time for prayer. Because it is so stringently scheduled, I can’t miss it.
  2. I’d like to read the entire Bible this school year. I’m pretty sure I’ve read a lot of it in chunks, but I’d like to do it coherently. I’m following a schedule and setting aside time every morning.
  3. I’d like to get more involved with the social life at school. Last year, I was that freshman, who burrowed into the library every evening, desperately keeping his head above the teeming waters of schoolwork that suddenly inundated his previously kiddie-pool-esque academic rigor. I needed to be that guy to survive, and I was–now, I think I can be more involved with student organizations, and I’d like to be.

I have more, certainly, and some are personal–these just serve as an example.

My request of you, now, is to identify your resolutions, whether explicitly made and publicized, or subconsciously decided upon and only now recognizable.

My question for you is to check in on the young man or woman you hoped to become. How is he or she doing?

20160927_103100There was a shift, a changing of the landscape, when you began college and returned to a collegiate environment–doesn’t matter if it was your first year or your tenth, you were in a particular environment this summer, and now you’re in a new one.

As you were introduced to the new environment, you correctly recognized it as an opportunity to try something new–to alter your internal landscape in response to the alteration of the external landscape. So, introspectively, as someone who tried to become someone different in a different place…how are you doing?

If everything went according to plan, please email me at and tell me how you did it, because you must have been bitten by a radioactive something to pull that off.

For the rest of us humans, something went to seed. The new environment, the collegiate environment, promotes some things and demotes some others–makes something that was previously difficult, effortless; something that was previously natural, wrong. I seek to grow socially this year, and the collegiate environment promotes that. I seek to sleep in a better schedule and pray more this year–the collegiate environment, quite simply, makes that very, very difficult.

I wish I could tell you that everything the college environment promotes, you can integrate into your life–however, this is simply not the case, and that’s what makes our life difficult as young Orthodox Christian adults. What I can tell you is that, very often, our faith tells us one thing, and the broken, fallen world fights back. The world does not take our resolutions laying down, and it throws as much as it can at us, to knock us off course.

But the Lord allows this. He allows this! Why?

That we may struggle; that we may fail; that we may fall; that we may see our fallen state; that we may turn to Him for help getting back up.

So, check in with yourself. Take a few minutes, put your phone deliberately away, sit in silence and check in. Answer the tough questions: who are you? Who were you before, in the old environment, and who are you in the new? Is that change a good one? Who do you want to be? What concrete things do you need to do to get from who you are to who you would like to be?

One month down, ladies and gentlemen. In the immortal words of the 1960’s R&B group The Impressions, keep on pushin’.


Introducing Your Publications Student Leader!

Introducing Your Publications Student Leader!

Hey everyone! My name is Ben, and I’ll be your Publications Student Leader this year.


This was my Staff photo this year for the Antiochian Village! People always make fun of that tie. I think it’s pretty dope.

Okay…what does that mean?

Right, so I’ll be responsible for running the OCF blog and the website this year. It should be pretty rad.

Well, what are you going to do?

Oh, awesome question! For the blog, we plan on posting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the school year, starting today. We’ll be posting a ton of reflections and testimonials–basically other OCF members like you telling their stories from various OCF things they did, like regional and district retreats, College Conference, Real Break, Day of Light, Day of Prayer, and other chapter events. If you want to write something for the blog, like a reflection or a testimonial, I’d love to help you out. You should email me at

What experience do I need to have?

None! I’ll walk you through it. If you want to post regularly, you can contact me about becoming a Blog Contributor, which is a new position this year. It allows you to work more directly with me and our other Blog Contributors, post on a scheduled basis, and gain experience while sharing your love for OCF with your fellow OCF members across the globe!

Wow, that sounds like a sweet deal.

I know!

So that’s the blog. What about the website?

Can’t tell you everything just now, I’m afraid–we’ve got a lot of stuff in the works. Stay posted for me.

Ooh, sounds mysterious and exciting. Why don’t you tell me a little more about yourself, Ben?

For sure, totally non-fictitious person. I’m Benjamin Solak, a second-year student at the University of Chicago–no major just yet, but that’s okay (right?). I attend Christ the Savior, an OCA parish in Chicago, but I’m from my father’s parish, Holy Trinity, in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Big football fan (Go Eagles!), marathon runner…LOVE chocolate chip cookies.


This is us at The Cloud Gate in Chicago. Emma thought it was absolutely incredible. I thought Emma was wrong.

Wait, Benjamin Solak…didn’t your sister do this job last year?

Yep–my greatest claim to fame is being Emma Solak’s younger brother. She was Publications last year, did a swell job–she’s the Chairwoman of the OCF Student Leadership Board this year. I want to be her when I grow up.

Are you gonna do as good a job as she did?


Well, at least you’re honest. I respect that in a man.

Thanks. Be sure to follow the OCF on Facebook, Twitter (@OCFMinistry), YouTube, and Instagram (@ocfministry) so you never miss a thing. Study hard this school year, go to that first OCF meeting even if you don’t know anybody, and I’ll see you back here soon! Let’s have a good year.