We grow up being told who we are: by our parents, our teachers, our friends, and our peers. They told us about how we were smart or pretty or funny or talented in a particular area. Sometimes they gave us titles that were much more painful: like chubby, boring, stupid or worthless. Regardless of the words that have been spoken about us over the years, they’re often pivotal in shaping our identity of self. We hear those voices of others and play the tape over and over in our minds. Often, we let these voices become a driving force in our lives whether we’re willing to admit it or not. We work tirelessly to hear more of the voices that made us feel valued and to hear less of the voices that caused us pain.
I’ve given the microphone in my life to so many voices over the years. Voices that told me I wasn't quite good enough. That my thighs were too thick. That I wasn't important. That I was boring. That I wasn't smart enough. That I was too needy. That I didn't belong. The list goes on. Not only were a lot of these voices not true, but they weren’t helping me live an abundant life. So I'm not listening to them anymore. I’m finding the strength to not be defined by my past. I’m finding the strength to acknowledge the things I’ve learned that I’m not, and the strength to, more importantly, acknowledge all the things I am. I’m finding the strength to tell a new story about my life.
I’ve learned who I’m not. That I’m not very good at math or numbers or things of the analytical sort. I’ve learned that I'm not a runner- that I actually really, really despise it. I've learned that I’m not shy, but I’m not going to fight you to be the center of attention. I've learned that I'm not happy when I try to live up to all the extraordinary expectations I've put on myself. That a life without carbs isn't one that I'm interested in. I’ve learned that my identity is not defined by a career, a relationship, or the size of my waist. I’ve learned that I’m not okay with settling for a mediocre life.
I’ve learned what I am. I’ve learned that I’m a traveller that wants life to be one adventure after another. That I want to see and do and explore as much as I possibly can. I’ve learned that I'm capable of sharing my faith boldly and unapologetically, after years of quietly avoiding disruption. That God laughs with me when I drink too much wine on Saturday because he knows my heart. I’ve learned that I’m an achiever that makes plans so I can crush my goals, but that I’m a closet rule breaker that wants to throw those parameters out the window from time to time for the sake of adventure. I’ve learned that I'm not afraid to be vulnerable. That these blog posts may seem cheesy and over the top to some, but that I'm wired with a greater passion for inspiration than I am seeking the approval of others. I’ve learned that I make one a hell of a companion- one that loves tenaciously, loyally, and passionately. That I'm a lot of fun and sometimes I'm even funny. I've learned that I have downfalls and imperfections but I love hard, forgive gracefully and am deserving of greatness.
I’ve learned that life can unfold a lot differently than any of us anticipate it to, but that it's still bursting with possibility. That I can still become extremely well-traveled, a successful businesswoman, a dedicated wife, a loving (but likely clueless) mom, and inspiration to others... and if not, I can still rewrite my story several different ways that would all be beautiful.
These are my voices now. The ones I believe to be true, and the ones I'm choosing to let dictate the life that I live. What are yours? Are you able to differentiate the nagging and lies from those tied who you really are? Maybe your life doesn't look the way you thought it would. Maybe you're in the middle of an identity crisis because the voices tell you that you're not measuring up somehow. If that's the case, I hope that you can find the strength to rewrite your story. To shut up the voices that aren't helping you live the life you were created to live.
I know that sometimes we need to hear the voices that are hard, and that they can make us better versions of ourselves. But I hope that you'll know when to listen, what to take away, and that you don't get stuck. I hope the loudest voice you ever hear is the one that says "Don't give up. Anything is possible."