Be You, No One Else
When I was a teenager, I declared that I was proud that I didn't fit in with the "popular" crowd at my high school. I wanted to be an outsider, telling myself I reveled in it.
The fact was that I was quietly rejected by that crowd. I didn't get invited to their gatherings, parties, and events. I didn't sit with them at lunch or hang out outside school.
I never wore the coolest clothes or had the latest fashionable shoes. I drove a beat-up Volkswagen Beetle. I worked on the weekends when they were skiing at the lake because I needed money, and they didn't.
Those feelings of rejection and "otherness" were ones that I carried with me for a long time. They morphed into bitterness and derision toward people I would stereotype and dismiss even as I continued to try to become like them.
And then, one day, I woke up. I realized that all the people I'd been trying to emulate were just as messed up and complicated as I was. I also realized I didn't like the person I was when I wasn't myself.
Far too many of us spend our lives comparing ourselves to others while denying our personhood. We feel like we're not enough because we hold ourselves up to imagined images of people we know so little about in the first place.
Meanwhile, God has created us with unique gifts and glorious purposes. We each have a story to tell that is valuable and beautiful---one the world needs to hear.
Author and speaker Bob Goff put it like this:
We don't need to conform in order to belong. You'll rob people of the opportunity to see the world through your eyes if you try to act like everyone else--or even worse, somebody else. The price of acceptance is too high if it costs who you are.
You might be arguing with me in your head right now, saying something like, "I'm not special! I don't have that much to offer to the world."
You could have been told that before by people who never really knew you, and you believe it. Maybe you've spent too much time comparing yourselves to others and trying to be someone you're not that you've lost sight of who you really are.
It's a brand new year, and this is the perfect time to stop listening to those voices once and for all. Take this opportunity to learn to love who you are as you are.
You're not perfect by any stretch of the imagination---no one is.
But you are perfectly positioned to impact the world and the people in your life by being the person God longs for you to be and not someone else.
May you use this new year as the impetus to offer yourself more grace, acceptance, and self-love. May you know that God delights when you are being your best self.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.