There are so many books piled onto my shelves that I haven’t even touched. So many academic concepts I have yet to grasp. So many words I need to write. So many friends to whom I haven’t reached out. So much clutter in my room that I need to organize.
The pressure to constantly keep up is overwhelming, stressful, all-consuming, and terrifying. It’s that feeling of being behind, or that feeling of constantly worrying if you are behind and if you will be soon.
This feeling is the reason Type A personalities are always trying to use all of their time. Because there is always one more book to be read, one more blog post to write.
What I don’t think people realize is that we will never, ever catch up. We will always be behind.
It’s unlike me to say something so pessimistic, huh? Don’t worry. I’m not finished yet.
This post takes an EXTREME amount of vulnerability for me.
You see, I am brave enough to tell the world I had a huge crush on this guy who didn’t like me back (See “Hey I Kinda Like You, Do You Like Me Too?”). I am brave enough to tell the world that I am incredibly insecure (see, like, every post). I am brave enough to tell the world that I do super embarrassing things, that I fail, get rejected, and disappoint others.
But I haven’t been brave enough to share what makes me truly me. In fact, I oftentimes intentionally filter it out for fear that I am revealing too much.
Because what makes me truly me is controversial. It’s not what some people want to hear. It’s been twisted by society to have a negative connotation.
To most intellectuals, what makes me me screams weakness and stupidity. It provides opportunity for people to invalidate everything I say and all that I am.
What makes me me could eliminate me from the social constructs of “cool” and “popular”. Not that I was ever apart of those social constructs, but still ;). I’m placed in a category with people who are sometimes (and most of the time incorrectly!!) viewed as hypocritical, judgmental, and unrealistic.
What makes me truly me is abstract. It’s multifaceted. It can be complicated.
But you know what I’ve decided?
If I’m going to have a blog that has the sole purpose of inspiring other people to be vulnerable and reflective, where I promise to unleash all that I am and all that I want to be, where I am honest about my feelings and experiences, then it would be unbelievably hypocritical of me not to write about what truly makes me ME. It would be unbelievably hypocritical for me to filter that out.
Telling you what makes me me may not resonate with you at all. You may not care. You may react exactly how I feared you would, by placing me in a category, not giving me a chance, labeling me. Or, even worse, you may invalidate my past, present, and future words.
But that is a risk I am taking today.
For the sake of what makes me me, for the sake of my blog, and for the sake of the one person, out of thousands of readers, who may actually read these words and be taken aback. Who might read these words and not agree at all but want to know more. Who might be encouraged. Or who might say, “I knew it all along.”
In the past two months, a few people have reached out to me in one way or another to tell me that they notice something about me. That apparently I have this light, this “something” that makes them want to draw nearer to me. To have more of it. To figure out what it is. (Y’all know who you areJ)
And it is these people, and these compliments, and the reassurance that at least a few people can see what makes me me, that has given me the courage to finally tell all my readers—now 8,012 which is so freakin’ scary but also so crazy awesome—what that is.
What the heck, Hope? You started talking about feeling behind and now you jumped to what makes you you and now you’re mentioning Jesus and I’m lost.
Okay, stay with me.
Yes, I have 71 books overflowing from my bookshelf that need to be read. Yes, I have plans I need to make, people I need to see, work I need to do. When I don’t keep up with those things, more and more plans and books and work pile up. I should feel behind and overwhelmed and inadequate. I should feel stressed, anxious and rushed.
But Jesus keeps me from feeling behind, from feeling many of those feelings, because those things (books, work, plans) are not truly me. I am not an intellectual, I am not an avid reader, I am not a writer, I am not a good friend. Those are parts of me. But they’re not what makes me me. What makes me me is Jesus. And he is always the same! Yesterday, today, and forever (those words are straight from the Bible!).
This is sooooooo freeing.
It’s like taking one of your ten-page long to-do lists and writing GOD over the entire list.
You don’t need to do anything.
You don’t need to impress Him.
You don’t need to measure up. (Because, trust me, we will never measure up to Him, anyway. And, frankly, we’ll never measure up to society, either.)
Without Him, I would always feel behind. I would always feel inferior. I would always feel not smart enough, not talented enough, just not enough in general.
But with Him, I take a deep breath because He has my ENTIRE future mapped out. Type A people, did you hear that?!?! It’s like a career counselor but a LIFE counselor and you don’t even have to go to all those stupid meetings where they make you take a Myers Briggs personality test for the eighth time. He already has your life figured out!!!!!! He is leading you down every path!!!! You don’t have to PLAN! He is holding your hand as you walk down every rocky path, every scenic route.
Type A’s, I know you’re still going to plan. I do, too. But with Jesus inside me, the plans I make never become reality. I planned to go to Wake Forest for college, to major in Spanish, to open up a nonprofit in a Latin American country. And now I’m at Duke writing a blog. This summer I planned to study abroad in France and take a creative writing class through NYU. Instead, I spent time at home, hung out with my family, and went to a blogging conference. I’m so glad things didn’t work out the way I planned, because God’s plan was soooooo much better, and it always is.
It’s humbling that people over the past couple months have mentioned being drawn to me, but what draws them to me is another person entirely!!!!
And that’s freeing. Because that person is ALWAYS amazing. He is ALWAYS wise. He is all-loving. He is altogether beautiful.
I don’t have to keep reading books so people will be drawn to me. I don’t have to keep writing blog posts so people will be drawn to me. I don’t have to put on more makeup. Or hang out with certain people. Or dress a certain way.
I just have to keep letting Jesus’ light shine out of me. I know you all can’t always see that light, especially not when I’m hangry (hungry + angry if you haven’t heard the phrase; it’s the story of my life), or just in a bad mood, or being selfish and irrational. I know many of you can think of times when I was just a dark blob, when I offended you, or wasn’t positive, or made a bad decision. But when I let Him shine through me, the light shines to the world. At least, that’s what some people have said.
With Jesus inside of me, I have immense joy. The picture I imagine when I think of the word joy is the face of a couple that has just been pronounced married. They’re standing there thinking, “I am so loved!!!!!” It’s joy. But the thing is that I experience that feeling all the time when I sit back and realize that the Person inside of me loves me forever and unconditionally, and that there’s nothing I have to do to have access to that love. I am so loved!!!!!!!!! It’s like my wedding day every day!!!!!
With Jesus inside of me, really awful stuff has happened.
My family has been through a lot. Each and every one of us around the world has been through so, so much: sickness, death, backstabbing, disappointment, unfairness, people misunderstanding or placing us in a box, the typical things life throws at you. I’ve struggled personally over the years (many of those struggles you’ve read about, and many you’ll one day read about when I get around to writing about them!).
But with Jesus inside of me, I am able to keep a smile on my face, to pick myself up and move on, to be joyful, to keep from feeling overwhelmingly behind, and to continue to shine His light even amidst the darkness.
Now that you know who I am, who are you? What makes you YOU? I’d love to hear from you, to have you vulnerably tell me, and then to celebrate how awesome you are. Because you are way more awesome than you think.
I’d be honored to hear who you really are. But I don’t have to be the person you tell. But, please, tell someone. Let someone know who you really are. Because I want you to experience how I feel right now after telling you all who I am. I feel alive.
I know it’s taken quite a while for me to tell you who I am, but vulnerability is a journey. I hope you’ll take the journey with me by reading more posts and by telling someone who you really are.
PS: You all may have noticed that I didn’t post a Missed Moment on Monday. I have happy/sad news about that. The happy news is that Missed Moments is being made into a book!!!!!!! The sad news is that the golden rule for publishers is that books must contain 70% new content. This means I can’t be posting every Missed Moment I’ve collected or else there won’t be any new content for the book! So the Missed Moments will be posted more sporadically. But thanks for the overwhelming support!!