I have been absent from this blog for a while. I started it as a way of stepping out of my shell and being vulnerable. At the time, blogging felt the safest for me. Since that time I have been willing to be vulnerable in my everyday life. I have been sharing my story with other people, making new friends, and taking baby steps toward letting go of my insecurities and limiting beliefs. The results have been miraculous!
I currently have a job that I love. I am helping people and in turn, I am helping myself. I am in a position to use my experiences to help others. Opening up and being vulnerable has not only helped me, but has been a blessing to those I share with.
This year I decided to be a youth leader with my church. I lead a group of 8th grade girls. I intended to be a leader for high school girls as I work with college students, and felt I could better relate to them. I particularly did not want to lead middle school girls as I had assigned my middle school experience to the whole group. When it was time to assign leaders to groups, the youth pastor found they had a surplus of high school leaders and not enough for middle school. I cringed. I did not want to lead a group of middle school girls. I began to have flashbacks of all the judgments, name-calling, and the awkwardness of being part girl, part woman. I did not want to relive that again. I was assigned to a group of girls. Some of them I found an instant connection with, some were very quiet and awkward like I was. I was surprised to find that I was not afraid of them, but afraid of what my thoughts and feelings I had about myself coming to the surface. This led me to do so soul-searching.
We all have insecurities, some we get over, some we don’t, and some we push so far away we think they are gone, but they are not. I was wrestling with the latter. I went through the typical preteen growing pains, but I held onto a lot of the insecurities that surfaced during that time. I have been insecure with my appearance. I have good days and bad days, but I often tie my expectations about how people are going to treat me to how physically attractive they think I am. Sometimes that is the case. In my interactions with adults, I had accepted that and had gotten over it. I was confident with my physical appearance. I did not feel, as an adult, that my physical appearance would in any way hinder a connection or relationship. Now I was back in the 8th grade, and those insecurities resurfaced.
As I walked into the first youth group meeting, I surveyed the other leaders. Most were young, cute, and fit. I instantly thought the 8th grade girls would gravitate to those young ladies. I stood there with my graying hair, with my purse on my shoulder (apparently purses aren’t a thing anymore), still dressed for work as I came to church immediately after, wondering how would the 8th grade girls feel about me. I envisioned all of the leaders in a lineup being chosen by the girls to lead them, and I would be the last one standing. All the leaders met before being assigned to our groups. I was partnered with another leader in her twenties, who was bubbly and cute. I was immediately insecure. Not because I am older and grayer, but I was insecure about how the 8th grade girls were going to feel about me as I stood next to a human Barbie. My insecurities came from my experience as an 8th grade girl and not feeling adequate, popular, and attractive. As an adult I am confident in most areas of my life, particularly my appearance. I had held on to the insecurities of my youth and they came spouting up when I was about to face a horde of adolescent girls.
It took me a couple of weeks to realize my insecurities had nothing to do with the 8th grade girls and everything to do with the healing that was yet to take place. I had to extract the roots of my old insecurities and let them go. I was needlessly holding onto something that was not serving me. This caused me to examine other things that I need to let go. It’s on ongoing process, and like this experience has taught me, there may be firm roots beneath the surface lying in wait to attack at any given moment.
I would like to challenge all of us to do a self-assessment and figure out if there is something we need to let go. Some of them may be relationships, ideas, habits, etc. We need to eliminate the things that are not serving us and make room for the good things that will enrich our lives.