Growing up I was always the people-pleaser. My life was dictated by what my parents, family, and friends thought of me. Hell, my life was dictated by what strangers thought of me. Do you know what that’s like? Living life walking on eggshells and watching everything you say or do because you have no idea how it’s going to be received? How you’re going to be received? It’s paralyzing. I was living in a constant state of fear. “Why did I say that?” “Was she offended?” “Do they still like me?” “What can I do to fix this?” The result being that I was a quivering mass of insecurities with no clear identity.
I was jealous of people who could just be themselves and not care about the consequences. People that accepted their flaws and rolled with it. My best friend in particular was one of those people I was envious of. She was loud, outgoing, funny, cracked inappropriate jokes at times, and was the life of the party everywhere she went. I wasn’t jealous of the attention she got – I was jealous of how comfortable she was in her own skin. I desperately wanted to be that way.
Around 3 years ago I went through group therapy. During the course of this process I rediscovered myself – identified which parts of my personality were authentic and which parts I had developed to either play the victim or to play the star of the show. I threw those parts away and focused on being a real, authentic, true person. I let God redefine who I was. He showed me the parts of me that I had been suppressing. And I got really really comfortable in my own skin.
The flip side of that? I started disappointing people who were used to getting what they wanted out of me. Because I had no clear identity or personality I had been a chameleon of sorts – giving each person what I thought they wanted to see or hear from me. All of a sudden I was saying “no, I don’t want to do that, that’s not who I am” and it didn’t go over so well. But you know what? Once you get used to letting people down – it just isn’t such a big deal anymore. I encourage everyone to try it – disappointing people that is. It’s good for you – you realize you can survive someone thinking poorly of you. It’s good for them – they realize that no one’s perfect and everyone will let you down at some point. I’m not saying go out of your way to let people down or hurt them – I’m saying be true to yourself even when others don’t understand.
Obviously, all of that is in context of loving God and loving others. I don’t want this to sound like an excuse to be a person that doesn’t accept rebuke or correction. But I definitely think that we should be able to hear correction and go “I’ll pray about that, let me check with God and see if He feels the same way about me as you do”. Because the truth is, we don’t have to accept everything people say about us. But we do have to accept ourselves – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
It’s been a while since I cared what people thought of me. I do have some people in my life that have the power to really hurt me by being disappointed in me. I am okay with that – being vulnerable and exposed with certain people in my life. But thank God that I have stopped feeling that way about everyone. Thank God I have stopped letting the world define me.
A couple of years ago I was the girl that would adapt different personalities to deal with different friends. I would be lost in groups because I didn’t know how to be 5 different people in one setting. Today I’m the girl that is herself in any setting. I won’t apologize for who I am – I can be intimidating, I like to dress well, and I have a sassy strong personality. I can be flexible and accommodate people – but I’m not going to change myself so others feel more comfortable with me. I may have a harder time of it because of this but I’m not going to trade the security I’ve found in being who God designed me to just for the desire to feel like I belong.
I’m who I am for God’s approval. Full stop.
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