Wednesday, November 15, 2017

TO BE YOU




The other night I was sipping red wine on my friend’s patio overlooking the skyline. We were talking about how hard it is to be ourselves. While at first glance this may sound trite, like a nice slogan from childhood of “just be yourself!” Now, there is nothing wrong with the statement, in fact, the statement is fine. What is difficult is actually living it out.

My friend said “I’ve literally never talked about this to another woman.”

The content of the topic had her feeling so much shame, so abnormal, so different that she had literally never talked to another woman about it before. I just have one thing to say:

GIRL. I GET IT.

There are certain taboo topics among women and all of humanity for that matter that seem to cause a tightening in our chests. And there are other topics that are so much milder when you really get down to it, but still make us super anxious!

These things about ourselves can be as serious from I’ve never wanted to get married to I don’t like donuts or I read [write] fan-fiction.

Do you know what I mean?

Why is it SO hard to be unapologetically ourselves?

Well thanks for asking! There are clearly a number of reasons.

We crave with the deepest parts of our souls to belong and sometimes belonging means we have to stay the same. Belonging is survival and so being different or abnormal or not part of the group feels incredibly threatening to our very being.

No wonder we give in to camouflaging so easily. Call it whatever you want. Crowd psychology, group think, mob mentality. There is safety in numbers and more often we find ourselves flocking like pigeons.

It’s this invisible pressure that is always pulling us and yanking us to be just like everyone else.

I read a lot, a lot of books but a lot of articles and blogs too. Bios have scary similarities almost as if we can’t venture outside of anything that doesn’t fall into basic white girl category (and yes I’m one of them).

Examples are as follows:

Brunch lover. Succulents. Fitness

Girl running on coffee and Jesus

Puppies. Big dreamer. Pizza.

Outdoors.  Donuts.  Love well.

Juice Cleanse. Find the positive. Healthy living.

Boss babe. Positive vibes. Nutrition Coach.

Family. Faith. Fitness.

Be brave. Adventure. Crunch dead leaves in Uggs and flannel.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with the above (clearly I am a HUGE advocate for my coffee and I can be real basic about it all).

But also I’ve thought about some things that are true of me that are harder to admit, and they aren’t even that bad, but they just aren’t currently trending, they aren’t mainstream and honestly imagining them on my bio or byline makes me feel tense. They aren’t just about fitness and succulents and the gym and eating pizza. I kill succulents. I don’t really like pizza and the gym is a huge bore to me.

Let me tell you something though. The authors who have really REALLY spoken to me have said the things no one else is saying. They said the thing everyone is afraid to breathe out loud and that is why I love them, because I had a YES ME TOO moment.

And with my friend on the patio, eye to eye, face to face, we had a moment of ME TOO and it’s okay. We belong together. 

Belonging to an actual person is so much better than belonging to whatever is trending on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and the wide variety of blogs we read. It’s so much more fulfilling than just pretending you’re into all the things you’re not.

So here it is, unapologetically me:

  • I love wild fowl (eating it).
  •  I hate the beach in the summer.
  • I have never had a problem drinking water and my whole life I always nod and act very interested in “hydrating well” and say “I just gotta drink water!” so I can fit in and not seem braggy. But for the love of God, if I come across like a bragger butt because I like water and drink lots of it, then we all need to take a seat.
  • I really don’t like pizza. I never crave it.
  • I would eat pasta every day and be very happy and this includes box mac’n’cheese.
  • I truly love salads. I love the texture and the crunch and the munch. I always feel nervous people assume I’m trying to be healthy or trying to lose weight when I order a salad but I have loved salads since I was a child.
  •  I think football is dumb.
  •  I can’t handle slow, sad, dramatic TV shows.
  •  I love school and academia and while I tried to complain so I could be empathetic and be part of the group, I secretly loved writing papers.
  • I hate going on vacation and feeling pressure to visit the “top 10” places YOU MUST SEE. It makes me want to see none of them. Sometimes I don’t want to be a tourist. Sometimes I want to lie around the hotel and read a book. It’s vacation after all.
  •   I don’t wash my face in the mornings.
  •  I enjoy making up words. 
  •  I really enjoy the smell of gasoline.
  • I hate movies based in space. It makes me feel claustrophobic.
  • C.S. Lewis has not changed my life.
  • I can’t stand diet culture.
  • Pre-injury, I loved running specifically long distance running.
  • I have multiple library cards because I read like I’m running out of air.
  • You will never catch me utilizing the Find My Friends app. It is the most invasive thing ever. 
  • I hate the hashtag #fitfamily the most.
  •  If I run out of dish soap I just fill it up with water much to my husband's dismay. #sorrynotsorry
  • I think heels are the worst invention ever and refuse to wear them.
  • Turtle necks are a nightmare (does anyone really want something crawling up their neck?!)
  • I love hand written letters and write letters regularly. I am still a 90’s girl who is always seeking a good pen pal.
  • I stick tampons EVERYWHERE so that wherever I am I will find one (think random kitchen drawer, glove box, suitcases, pockets, zippers, etc.).
  •  I love laser tag.
  • Peeling off my nail polish is extremely satisfying. 
  •  I love all obstacle courses.
  •  I actually don’t like Coldplay.
  •  I love a good gravel road.
  • I studied the macaroni penguins in school.

P.S. Here is my list of basic white girl things that I truly and deeply love: cold brew, Jesus, puppies, fall, leggings, and pumpkin spice everythinnnnggg. (Sorry Jesus, I didn’t mean to say you were basic).

Here’s what I’m learning.

I’ve spent a large part of my life trying to be the type of woman people needed or expected me to be to fit in with the larger culture.

I’ve spent time trying to be the type of Christian people needed or expected of me.

I’ve spent time trying to be the type of human people needed or expected of me.

But I’ve been anchoring into myself. I’ve been listening to my gut, my body, my soul. I’ve been trusting it more. Instead of shaming myself for what I like or don’t like, I try to be curious about it. Instead of just “sucking it up” and doing what everyone is expecting of me, I’ve been trying to turn towards me rather than away from me.

It’s really revolutionary. I get quiet and listen to the space where there is no crowd or mob telling me what I must be.

There’s quite a few even bigger things I’m coming to terms with about myself that doesn’t fit in with what I thought it meant to be a white, straight, Christian woman living in America. I’m realizing I differ on some things.

I’m finding there are many out there who are looking for a voice to unapologetically claim who they are and what they're about. 

I’m wondering if maybe there is something you enjoy out there that just feels like it doesn’t fit in?

If we could talk about our basic likes and dislikes, what colors we like, our favorite foods, maybe we could move on to bigger and scarier subjects? Subjects about politics, social injustice, trauma or even more scary, how we really feel inside.

What are we actually drawn to? I think this is important to think about. There is so much need in our big aching world but sometimes I think we rush down the current of what is trending. If we aren’t deeply passionate about a certain subject we feel guilty and then end up neglecting the subject we truly resonate with. 

We simply can’t be into everything. We have to embrace our niche and then own it. We can’t be a chef/neuroscientist/yoga instructor/elementary teacher/coder/ veterinarian all at the same time.

God doesn’t need you to be an activist for everything.

In the world of social justice I see it often. People feel a pressure to be actively advocating for everything. Homelessness. Sex trafficking. The refugee crisis. Poverty. Access to healthcare and education. Those struggling with substance abuse and addictions. Racial reconciliation. Civil rights. Recycling.   Education on feminism. Fighting against patriarchy. Disabilities rights. Reproductive justice. Mass incarceration.  Gender workplace diversity. Special needs. Spiritual abuse. Labor Laws. Immigration.  Child abuse. Human rights. Animal rights. The environment. Transgender rights. Gun violence.

How can we tend to the good in our world without letting the evil swallow us up?

Can we tolerate being different? Even if we don’t have the same hobbies, or dreams or desires or hopes? Can we manage our reactivity a bit more about these things? Why would we ever want to take away the creativity and originality inside each of us?.

I know for a fact that even the most basic coffee loving, Jesus loving, organic eating girl has more going on than that. There is more beating inside her soul than just her thoughts on organic foods and whole roasted beans.

For me I like having duck for my birthday dinner and I plan trips to the beach when it’s cloudy or even rainy. I am passionate about foster care, and helping young adults and adolescents manage anxiety and helping end stigma surrounding mental health. I care a lot about how we talk about sexuality especially within the Christian church. I like saying hi to dogs and asking how their day is going (in front of their owners) and I will forever abhor the smell of an airplane but can handle just about anything with a good book.

Now it’s your turn? What do you love? What is your niche? This is not a group decision as Shauna Niequist says, “This is actually my life, and it doesn’t matter a bit if it would feel lovely for someone else to live. What does matter: does it feel congruent with God made me and called me?”

Do you like kidney beans? Do you wear mis-matchd socks? Do you own a pet that you can only see under a microscope?  Do you hate uggs? Answer below in the comments!



2 comments:

  1. I love speaking in front of a group, teaching, writing, decorating and flowers. Because I was the "reject" of my high school, it took me awhile to realize that God sees me as amazing... Then, it didn't matter what anyone else thought. He thinks you're amazing too btw!

    ReplyDelete