Wishing to be someone else

Lately I’ve been putting a little bit more effort into being myself again. I know what you’re thinking: being yourself ought to require no effort. But alas, you’d be wrong. I’m so used to wishing I were like other people that I keep forgetting what I’m like. And I spend way too much mental energy worrying about coming up short in others’ eyes if I don’t love or prioritize the things that they love or prioritize.

I wish I were more interested in politics, and music, and pop culture, and theology. But I’m not. I wish I had more maternal instincts, a knack for cooking, a tolerance for small talk, a more adventuresome spirit. But I don’t. And I’m learning that that’s ok. Other people love those things or have more of those qualities, and that’s wonderful. I have other loves and qualities, and that’s wonderful too.

I want to stop wishing I were someone else and accept me for all that I am and all that I am not. And focus more on the “all that I am” part, the things I actually do love, the things I’m actually good at. I’m pretty good at making people feel known and valued and safe in conversation on my couch with a comforting beverage in hand. That’s a gift I want to make more opportunities for in my life.

It’s ok to focus my energies on the things that pique my interest rather than the things that pique others’ interest.

If you’re learning to validate yourself, too, take a few precautions:

  1. Don’t let your validation of yourself de-value others. Showing interest in another person’s interest can be a form of sacrificial love that helps bolster their sense of being valued.
  2. Remember that we still must contextualize our behavior for our environment. It’s appropriate to adjust how we interact with people at work versus at home (but forcing ourselves to be completely different people in different places is inauthentic and exhausting).
  3. And be careful you don’t focus so much on your own passions that you become self-centered or self-important. Figure out what you’re passionate about, and change the world (or a small portion of the world) with it.

Find yourself, be yourself, and do good while you’re at it.


Photo by Designecologist from Pexels

My Year of Anonymity

After several years of Christian ministry, I’d slowly and unintentionally gotten myself wrapped up in a giant Christian bubble. I didn’t like it—I missed refreshingly-secular conversations with people who didn’t think like me, and I wasn’t making room for that when my calendar was booked with church services, small groups, outreach trainings, and prayer meetings. I didn’t want to wipe away all Christian influences—I think that being connected to fellow believers helps ground you in your faith—I just wanted to leave behind the bubble that isolated me from people who didn’t share my faith.

And like some other changes I’ve needed in my life, I decided to go drastic for a short period of time. Swing to the other side of the pendulum, so to speak. And later, after I’d experienced both extremes, find the appropriate middle ground for me.

So I took a year to be anonymous.

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My Kind of Feminism

One of my earliest memories associated with feminism was a TV commercial that admonished parents to not buy their daughters tea sets but to buy them chemistry sets instead. It was an attempt at shaking up the status quo, to introduce science to little girls who otherwise wouldn’t have thought to ask for it because it had never been modeled for them, and to broaden the career horizons of many young women. That commercial infuriated my mother.

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Being Phlegmatic

A former supervisor-turned-dear friend once described me as someone who accommodates others day after day until reaching an unspoken limit where I can’t take it anymore. He said that’s when I “dig my heels in” and refuse to budge, catching everybody off guard because they had no idea I was accommodating that whole time since I seemed to be participating so willingly. I learned much later that this was classic Phlegmatic behavior.

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Blogging Rules

When I began my blog a year ago, I decided to put in place some guiding principles to keep me in line with its vision and purpose (steps toward a thriving, flourishing life), as well as to keep me honest with myself and my readers. Internet etiquette is different for everyone since we all have different expectations of what’s appropriate and beneficial to “put out there,” and it’s so easy to get swayed by other people’s convictions of what your blog should be. Instead of taking on what someone else found appropriate, I put together my own set of rules for my writing. Here is what they were:

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Gleaning

I get a lot of advise. Some of it is passive, like what I read in self-help and other non-fiction books with valuable life lessons. Other advise is more active, like people telling me specifically that I should try something they’re doing that they love.

A lot of it is good advise. But I’ve realized that the more advise I consume, the more overwhelmed I get. I’m on information overload. I cannot possibly follow every word of advise given to me by every author, every Ted-talk speaker, every pastor, every friend, and every family member. I don’t have enough brainpower, emotional capacity, or hours in a day.

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Illegitimate Guilt

Sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing between a legitimate feeling of guilt and an illegitimate one. What I mean is, when someone I respect or love disapproves of a choice I make, I feel so bad about disappointing them that I start to feel like I’ve actually done something wrong. Even if it’s not wrong, just something they don’t like.

It’s even worse when they bring God into the equation.

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Couples Retreat

A friend of mine once told me that thousands of years ago in Israel, newlywed couples would retreat for a year to get acquainted with one another. They’d be isolated from the people they knew, leaving behind the former ties and making new ones with their spouse, before re-emerging in their society as a couple united in mind and purpose.

I don’t know where she got her information, and whether it was historically true or not, and generally I thought something like that was kinda unnecessary in the day and age (and the type of society) where couples actually do know each other very well before getting hitched. But something about it drew me to the idea because I was in the kind of long-distance relationship that didn’t allow for us to be around each other very much in normal everyday experiences. We talked a lot on Skype, and I was sure that he was the right guy for me, but I knew that sharing a home and a life would be a hard transition for a couple who couldn’t act like a couple most of the time and who essentially turned back into independent people as soon as the computer screens closed or as soon as one of them got back on a plane to go home.

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Mind Reader

I have always fancied myself pretty good at reading other people’s minds. It comes from my tendency to over-analyze small details: the micro-actions or inactions of someone I’m familiar with. It’s a self-preservation tool to try to be prepared to respond in any situation. I’m always thinking about what other people are thinking about.

And I’ve been told (by someone I love and trust) that I’m not as good at it as I fancy I am.

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