School starts tomorrow. (Sorry to bring it up for those of you still in denial.)
Most of the time, August rolls around with me half not looking forward to homework/6am mornings/zero free time and half excited to see people after three months of solitude.
I’m kidding. I have friends and I spent time with them over summer break, I promise.
Here’s where I’m getting at.
Though school is coming around like it would in any other year, this year is going to be different, because I’ve decided that for senior year, it’s time to make a much-needed change—a change in the way that I think.
Now, I don’t know how long this mindset shift is going to take me, but I do know it’s not going to be easy. This is something I’ve struggled with for years, and God has been teaching me how detrimental it truly has been.
But I have also been taught that little things make big differences, and thoughts have a bigger impact on the way we live than we tend to give them credit for.
That being said, here goes nothing. Here’s my new thought for the last year I’ll spend in high school:
This year, I’m going to stop agonizing over the opinions and criticism of others, and instead be more than okay with being me.
Read that again.
All too often, I get caught up in worrying about what others think about me, so I tailor how I come across, in hopes that they won’t have anything bad or exciting to gossip about. Seriously, that’s what I think about.
But then, sometimes “tailoring” doesn’t do the trick, and it calls for a complete personality/hobby/lifestyle change.
It’s mentally exhausting, to say the least.
I’ve learned that not only am I trying to change who I am for dumb reasons, I’m leveling myself up with unattainable standards. Maybe you can relate.
If you’re not sure, here’s a little snippet from my mind. Maybe these thoughts will be all too common for you, too.
Everyone likes how athletic she is. I should probably try to be better at soccer or something.
She’s gorgeous and she’s getting all the attention…maybe I should spend more than like 2 minutes on my hair.
And wow, this girl is so funny! Why can’t I do that?
For the longest time, I didn’t realize that these standards I compared myself to were so completely unattainable. I just didn’t get it.
I also didn’t realize that comparing one person to another is like comparing apples to oranges. It can’t be done, people are simply too unique to compare.
In the same way, how can we say that all girls should have long, preferably light blonde hair, skinny bodies, enough makeup to cover all the blemishes, and definitely an extroverted, funny personality? (Also, we should probably be good at sports, because that’s really important too.)
I don’t get it. And I don’t like it either.
I don’t like how we are all so pressured into being someone we’re not, when who we are is so much more unique and genuine and beautiful.
And yes, I completely believe that there is beauty in being different.
So this whole idea of changing myself in order to fit in or not be gossiped about?
I’m letting it go.
It’s pointless. And one day, I’m going to look back and realize that this whole popularity thing was not worth my time of day.
But the cool thing is this: I don’t have to wait till I’m out of high school or meeting new people to make this change. I don’t have to waste my senior year with a mindset focused on “me”, when I could be spending this final year leading and helping and loving the people around me.
It’s possible to be others-focused, yet confident in who I am. Confidence doesn’t mean pride.
And I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided that it doesn’t really matter if the people around me think I’m boring or funny-looking or whatever.
God made me, me, and even though He loves you so terribly much, He doesn’t want me to try to be you.
And just as much as He wants me to embrace my qualities and talents, He wants you to do the same.
So here’s where I’m at.
I don’t think this means I have to give up cute clothes or presentable hair. And yes, I’m still going to where some makeup.
But when my look doesn’t “match up” to the girls around me, I’m not going to freak out. I’m not even going to freak out on those days when I look like I ran through a tornedo before showing up in public. Because some days, I feel like the tornedo look suits me, right? (It’s okay to pretend sometimes.)
Also, I’m going to thank God for my flute, my dance studio, and this blog, rather than wish I was better at something else. This is where He has me, and it’s better to enjoy all that I have than to wish it all away. Besides, who cares if what I’m good at isn’t the stuff that gets all the attention? It’s when I’m writing or surrounded by music that I feel closest to my Savior. How could I wish something like that away?
And finally, I’m going to learn to accept myself as the quiet leader I am. I don’t have to be as funny as everyone else to be used by God in the path He has set out for me. I won’t get mad at myself for being cautious, or task-oriented, or a crazy details person. God made me that way.
God made me, me.
And He made you, you.
So let’s be authentic. Let’s not hide behind insecurity or fear. Let’s stop focusing on the opinions and criticisms of others, but let’s think only of the all-encompassing love of Jesus Christ.
He loves us. He loves our funny personalities, our laughs, our hearts. And He wants nothing more than for us to be real. Authentic. Confident.
Let’s do this thing.