Ben Konuch

Day 298: Responsibility Insecurities

The cast’s sophomore is Ben Konuch. Ben shares with us the many opportunities he has been given this year. But, these new responsibilities have brought back old insecurities. Through his vulnerability, Ben gives us an intimate look at how he is coping while trying to keep God at the center of it all. 

The first few weeks of school have been made up of some pretty incredible opportunities and also some pretty intense struggles. Being the lead in The Giver has been a wonderful blessing from God, but it’s also taken an immense amount of time and emotional strain. It’s also brought back some struggles with insecurity and feelings of inadequacy, so trying to fight those lies from the Devil while also trying to learn from my director and the other really talented actors around me has been a struggle. With the show opening next week, I’ve been really stressed with whether or not I’ll be able to get to where I need to be for it, as well as the balance of trying to work on the play while still maintaining academics. School has had to take a temporary backseat with everything else going on right now, and I am a bit worried about how long I can sustain that.

I’ve also been given the opportunity to serve as MuKappa secretary this semester, and that has been another case of a blessing and a struggle at the same time. Being able to apply the skills I’ve been learning in my communication classes to something I’m passionate about – and something I can serve in – like MuKappa has been such an honor, but it’s also taken a lot out of my social battery. Learning how to navigate previous friendships while trying to build new ones, working on reaching out to freshmen while also feeling like I’m partly losing the bonds that I have with my other friends, and staying up until 2 AM to work on org emails that I sometimes feel like no one reads hasn’t been a very fun time at all.

On top of this, I’ve also tried to maintain working at Stinger and Tossed one day a week, but most of my work comes from writing for Cedars. This year I’ve been able to keep my job working for the A&E section of Cedars, which means I’ve been reviewing movies and shows for them and I’ve absolutely loved it. I’m really passionate about film and storytelling as well as writing, so being able to get some money saved towards tuition from something I really enjoy has made me eternally grateful.

Overall, God has been extremely generous and faithful through all the ups and downs so far this semester. He’s given me the opportunity to be able to make new friends, ones that I’m extremely thankful for and can’t wait to further. He’s also given so many fun times with old friends already, from spectacularly failing Mission Impossible with MuKappa pals to watching new episodes of fantasy shows with my incredible roommate. He’s helped me maintain grades in spite of the craziness. He’s provided energy despite my sleep schedule kind of imploding on itself. He’s given me more than enough, as He often does, but there’s been many days where it’s been hard to see it. There have been days full of loneliness, days full of overthinking and second-guessing, days when I just don’t have the energy to get out and do the things I need. For the sake of being real and being vulnerable, I’ve already had one slight mental breakdown this semester, and I do worry about how sustainable this schedule I’ve made for myself will be. 

But He is good, always. If I have to drop something, if I have to live with a lower grade than I was hoping for on that exam, if I have to let go of dinners with friends to be able to put more into rehearsal, then I will. God has given so many incredible opportunities and blessings this year, and I want to be able to steward them well in all that I do. 

Day 312: The Giver 

In this episode, Ben finds himself in between the two weekends of performances for The Giver. He describes what it’s like playing Jonas—the young boy who leads this emotion-filled story. But for Jonas to have emotion, Ben must provide it. This has caused a period of emotional drought that Ben is trying to recover from. Ben explores how this incredible opportunity is affecting his academics, social life, and relationship with Christ. 

It’s been a wild two weeks. The Giver opened last weekend and that has been a tremendous blessing, seeing how people have responded to this story that we’ve worked so hard on. Being able to convey this play and portray these characters in such a way to point to themes and values that have been so central to us has been such a fulfilling feeling. It’s our form of worship, and being able to serve God and point to Him through this has been a dream come true. I can’t wait for next weekend to close out this show with everything we have.

The show has also been an intense struggle. Giving up three or more hours every night in rehearsal has taken a toll on my social life, academics, and even my social group. I wouldn’t trade being in the play for anything in the world, but this last weekend has been exhausting in more than just sleep. I’ve found myself drained emotionally after doing five shows in three days, and it’s left a hollow, empty feeling that isn’t exactly sadness, but is something that’s been a struggle nonetheless.

School has also been a challenge with The Giver coming right before one of my first big exams for a class, which has come with its share of anxiety. Recognizing that I can’t put my all into everything all the time is something I’m still getting used to, and having grown up with a perfectionist attitude, that’s been hard to try and understand. I’m still trying my best with what I can, but I’ve also been learning that sometimes taking time to focus on my mental health and taking time to recharge when I need to is the best way to handle my responsibilities and steward what I’ve been given. So for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t able to pour everything that I wanted into a test I had to sit down and take, and I’ve had to understand that sometimes, that’s okay.

I’ve also been able to spend some great times with people I care about, whether it be watching fantasy tv shows with my roommate when I should really be sleeping or dressing up really fancily to go to Chuck’s with MuKappa friends for no real reason. I’ve been able to spend more time with people that are important to me, but I’ve also still felt a little distant from some and I’m not sure why. Part of me wonders if it’s with them or with me, but I feel like I’ve changed in the summer break between freshman year and sophomore year, and I don’t know if it’s been for the better. I know a lot of it has to do with being busy and overwhelmed, but part of me does really wonder what this year will have in store for me.

Day 326 – Recovering through Rest, Friendship, and Baseball

Now that The Giver has closed, Ben has focused on restoring himself. He has been able to rest more, give more energy to academics, and rekindle some friendships. He even describes how his love for baseball has rejuvenated him.

Over the last two weeks, we have been able to wrap our final shows of The Giver, and I’ve been able to get a lot of rest and recuperation. Finally having my evenings back for the first time since school has started has been such a bizarre – yet good – feeling. I’ve been able to reconnect more with my bro/sis, who I’ve missed a lot, and have been able to sink more into my MuKappa officer duties. I’ve also been able to spend more time in the Word, which has been wonderful and very much needed for my heart.

On a less serious note, being from Cleveland has made baseball an exciting postseason to watch. The Cleveland Guardians have made it to the postseason against all odds, and being able to keep up with them and follow the games alongside my mom who got me into baseball, despite our physical distance, has been a blessing and a fun connection point with my family. As of writing this, the Guardians are actually about to play the tiebreaker game of their series against the Yankees, so I’m a bit scared about how that’s going to go! Regardless, it’s been fun to watch and has helped me feel a little closer to home.

I’ve also been able to find some peace in my friendships, despite not all issues with social groups falling away. I’ve been able to spend much more time with friends since The Giver has ended, which has helped quench some of those fears of falling behind in my friend group. I’ve also surprisingly rekindled some old acquaintances from last year lately that have turned into unexpected and sweet friendships, which I’m extremely thankful to God for.

Overall, it’s been a very quiet and chill two weeks. I’m counting down the days until fall break, and while I’m a bit disappointed that I can’t go off campus with friends or visit family, I’m very grateful for the chance to just have a calm few days to rest and recover. I also know quite a few people who are staying on campus as well, so that is another blessing.

Overall, God has been good and has given me the rest and the strength I’ve needed after the show has ended. While post-show depression did hit hard, God lent me the strength I needed to keep going and gave me the people I needed to be around. He’s helped me get through tests and assignments, and even though I had an exam I really wish I did better on, I know God helped me through it and I wouldn’t even have been able to do as well as I did without Him. God is good, and through hard times or good ones, He keeps providing.

Day 340: Facing Burnout

Both fall break and Halloween were enjoyable times for Ben to rest with friends and take time to enjoy himself. He was even able to put substantial effort into a Halloween costume! But burnout continues to loom over Ben’s head as he joins another theatrical production. Even though he thrives on stage, Ben discusses the concerns he still has. 

Man, has it been a busy two weeks. Not a whole lot of note has happened, but a lot of little things have slowly been eating up all my free time. The push to fall break was pretty rough, with a few assignments and tests kicking me hard, but God was still in control and for the most part I did pretty well on things. Fall break itself was also a blessing, with days of sleeping in, some days of activity, some days of nothingness. On Friday, we actually went to my MuKappa friend’s house here in town and made gyoza and fried rice with him to celebrate his birthday, and then we watched Inception, so that was a pretty good day.

I’ve also gotten into another play which has just started up, and I was looking forward to getting my free time back but with this new role I’m gonna stay pretty busy. Rest has been and still is a pretty big concern for me lately, and I’ve been feeling its effects on me pretty hard. I don’t really have time for myself lately, and I’m running out of time to sleep every night. I’m hoping I can keep burnout at bay but it is a pretty valid concern.

I also was able to make my first ever costume for Halloween this year, which was Nathan Drake from Uncharted. I’m really happy how it turned out, and the experience and satisfaction of putting together my own costume for the first time was super rewarding. Also, going to Waffle House with friends in costumes is a 10/10 experience.

All in all it’s been a busy time but not necessarily an all bad one. I’ve gone thrifting with friends, played video games with hallmates, had a costumed photoshoot, spent a couple evenings petting the hill cats with an awesome friend, and had some pretty cool quiet time moments. I just wish I had more time to recharge and rest.

Day 355: Shame and Success

The feelings of shame and doubt are never enjoyable. But unfortunately, Ben encounters them through a major decision that he shares with us. Ben also talks about his recent success with Cedars magazine.

Oh boy, these last few weeks have been weird. 

I had to make the decision to pull away from the play that I was so excited to be in, and that was such a weird and hard call to make. I really wanted to be involved in the production, but I realized that I was way more emotionally fatigued than I thought. After being involved for a week in the rehearsal process and feeling a lack of peace and building anxiety, I prayed a lot about it and had to make the decision to step away from the show.

It was definitely a hard decision to make, but I think it was the right call. My life has gotten a lot crazier with work and assignments, and I really don’t think I would have been able to get through it without a significant mental breakdown. God has been able to give me peace about the whole decision and strength to get through what I need to do in other responsibilities.

The last two weeks I’ve also been able to make time to spend with people despite the stress of work and responsibilities. I’ve been able to spend time with my hall and have some fun times with them, including going to see Wakanda Forever, which was AWESOME. I’ve also been able to catch up with old friends that I haven’t had much time with this semester, so that’s also been an unexpected blessing.

This week we also had Cedars’ print magazine come out, which was pretty exciting! It was the first time any of my writing has been physically published and being able to get a copy of my own and hold it was a very surreal experience. It was a bit of a major dream come true for my love of writing, and I’m so excited that I was able to reach it.

So in short, life’s busy, life’s hard, but life’s good. It’s all about what we focus on, and I’ve been trying to focus on the good that the Lord’s been providing.