Lately I feel like there’s been this battle raging inside of me. This battle feels like I am trying to figure out, “Who am I even?”. Which seemed weird to me. I am a person who…for better or worse…knows who I am, accepts who I am, and…after many years of working on myself…loves who I am. So, why am I now trying to figure out, “Who am I even?”
Yesterday I found a little clarity on this.
You see, my daughter struggles with the same anxiety that I do. I hate it for her. I wish I could take it away and let her see how absolutely beautiful and wonderful she truly is. I wish I could make her never doubt herself again. That’s every mother’s wish, right? But we can’t.
Yesterday her counselor asked me when my daughter started being anxious about other people. I told her, “She was ALWAYS shy. Even as a little girl, she hid behind me around strangers or people she didn’t feel comfortable around.” The counselor’s response was one that I’ve often tried telling myself.
“That’s ok. God made us who He wanted us to be.”
Isn’t that a wonderful thought? And a really true one. That person that we were…that innocent, carefree child…That is who HE wants us to be. So what happened? How did we change?
That was the other part of yesterday. I told her counselor that I understood how my daughter was on the shyness front. I told her that people constantly argue with me that I’m not an introvert (like they know me better than I know myself?). She was shocked. “I would have thought you were an extrovert, too!” Nope. Not even a little. So, she asked me how I’ve battled my shyness. I told her…my family doesn’t believe in shyness. I remember being told, “You can’t be shy. Quiet people can’t be trusted.” So, I felt like I needed to change. Around 7th grade I figured something out…If I knew EVERYONE, I’d never have a reason to be shy. So, I made that my life’s mission. I started forcing myself to be social with people I didn’t know. I started forcing myself to be seen. I made sure that I never walked into a room where there could be no one that I knew. The counselor’s response? “That’s brilliant! Have you told your daughter this? You could teach her what worked for you.”
“Yes…I could do that. But I’m not sure I want to…”
Of course she couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to, so I explained. By forcing myself to be this person who *seems* very extroverted, I replaced one “problem” for another. My shyness turned to anxiety. I was fighting, with every bit of my being, to be seen when the last thing I wanted was to be seen. In order to do so, I became loud…sometimes obnoxious…always trying to get a laugh or a smile…and so very, VERY anxious. Now, instead of being quiet and comfortable, I was afraid of what people thought of me at every turn. Was I annoying? Was I too loud? Was I too much? Did I say something stupid? These people that I’m surrounded by…do they even like me or want to be there?
You see…I gave up who HE meant for me to be in order to become who the world expected me to be.
She was quiet for a moment as she pondered this and then she spoke. “I never thought of it that way. I’m an extrovert so being seen didn’t bother me. It wasn’t changing who I was. I never really considered what forcing that social side felt like on the inside.”
So, beyond feeling BRILLIANT as I always do when I teach a mental health professional a little something about psychology…it really got me thinking more in depth.
When is the one time that I’m NOT anxious about being seen? When I’m on stage singing. I can get on stage in front of hundreds of people and sing my heart out. I can put every bit of emotion inside of me (which is a lot if we’re being honest) out for the world to see through my voice. Then, the second I get off the stage, I go back to wanting to be invisible. Why? Because God gave me that voice. God gave me the music inside of me. God gave me the ability to share through words, either lyrical or written, what I feel inside…and I’ve always felt that He gave me this because I was meant to be someone who could show others that they’re never alone. That’s the power that words and music have…they show us that, no matter what we’re going through, someone else has been there and survived it well enough to write about it.
That’s who He made me. That’s the voice that He gave me.
It wasn’t God who wanted me to be that loud, exuberant, outgoing person off stage or without a pen/computer.
It was people.
So *this* is why I still have this battle raging inside of me. This is why I constantly have this anxiety of feeling like I don’t belong…like I’m in this world that isn’t mine…
When I’m with MY people…I AM that outgoing, funny, fun loving person. I love being that person.
When I’m with other people…I AM that quiet, reserved, thoughtful person who just wants to make the world smile. I love being that person.
When I have paper and pen (or a laptop) and have the ability to share with the world these thoughts…I can put into words every little thing that I feel like people need to hear. I can make them feel not alone. I love being that person.
I love being the person that God made me. That woman isn’t anxious. She’s joyous.
It’s the person that people made me that is anxious and afraid and scared.
I want to be who He made me.
And I want the same for my daughter.
“/end post” <——because I just learned that html wants to make it an actual internet thing if I don’t use the quotations.