I've been thinking a lot lately about the person I used to be. Back when I was much younger, and just out of high school. It was my first time out on my own, away from everyone who knew me. When I was growing up, I basically lived in a fishbowl. As the child of a pastor, there were always eyes on me. An entire congregation watching me, making judgements, and placing expectations on me. I don't remember ever feeling that I could just relax and not worry about fitting into a particular role. Some pastor kids live up to that expectation, and try to be perfect. Others run from that role and rebel, making every opposing choice they possibly can in a desperate attempt to not be forced into a mold. I didn't do that. I went for the perfection route.
In some ways, this worked really well for me. Perfection looks really good, after all, and it certainly looks pretty on a college application. But underneath I was itching to get to college, so I could breathe a little. When I got to campus, I was filling out some form, and there was a little box I could check if I wanted my hometown newspaper to be updated on significant things that happened to me in my college career. I did not check that box. My mom asked me about it, assuming I simply overlooked it. I told her that no, I hadn't missed it. I didn't want the newspaper to get that information. The truth is, I wanted space. I wanted to immerse myself in people that didn't know my background, and didn't have any preconceived notions about me. No expectations. Freedom. I could finally just be myself.
That was the start of many years of reveling in being myself. It was glorious. I discovered myself. I didn't need to go on a big trip around the world to find myself. I just needed to step away from the people who knew me. I gained confidence and self-assurance, and developed my sarcastic and slightly inappropriate sense of humor. I made wonderful friends and fell in love. I daydreamed and found my direction.
And then life did what life does, and threw a bunch of curve balls my way. I had some long-term interactions with people who had personalities that conflicted with mine. My direct approach doesn't fly with everyone. Not everyone appreciates a slightly inappropriate sense of humor. I know, it surprised me too! So I did what I do, and I adapted. I tried to "perfect" myself. If someone didn't like something about me, clearly it meant I needed to change, right? Bit by bit, I began to squash my personality. When a particular trait of mine got a negative reaction, I buried it. I forgot that I was a source of light and love exactly as I was. I forgot that God made me to be me, not someone else. Eventually, I created such dissonance between who I was and who I was trying to be, that I started not recognizing myself anymore.
It took therapy and a lot of work, but I'm finally starting to see myself again. I feel stronger. I feel more at peace. I am speaking my mind again. I am standing my ground again. I am dreaming about the future again. I have a direction and plans for my life that feel so in tune with my soul. And there are people around me that aren't used to seeing me like this. They know the other me. The suppressed me. The polite, respectable me. The me that never swears. Never tells a joke. Never gets mad. The me that isn't me at all. They don't quite know how to react to this me. But that's okay. They will have plenty of time to get used to this me, the real me. Because she's not going anywhere. I'm going to make sure she stays this time.
I am so glad you are here! Welcome to my blog. Look around and make yourself comfortable, because this is your space, too. My name is Amy, and I am no stranger to the ups and downs of life. Join me as we search for beauty and authenticity, tell our truth, and hold space for each other in the messiness of life.