One identity I see and feel differently is who I used to be compared to who I am now. I am still a “yes-woman”, and I used to be a die-hard people pleaser. I wanted to feel valued and accepted, because so often I did not fit in with everyone else. Until I got to college, I never felt like I belonged anywhere, which is ironic because the stereotypical sense of belonging is the opposite, but there I go again, not fitting society’s standards.
But back to who I used to be compared to who I am now: I got a chance to see my past self in the life of one of my co-workers. She is the nicest person, but she’s so set on pleasing others and it leads me to wonder if she’s happy herself. We’ve had conversations about identity and bullying, and even the misuse of a person’s emotions; she seems secure in who she is but it’s still questionable.
That’s who I was until I got to college – insecure but trying so hard to be confident, while not trying to come off as over-confident and being off-putting. I always wondered how the popular girls did it – how were they so beloved by their peers and teachers? How did they get so much attention? Questions like this pushed me to question my own existence: were I not beautiful? Were I uninteresting to talk to? What did I lack that they had?
The girl I saw myself in told me that on the first day of our internship, she saw me and immediately felt intimidated. I always smile, I am kind, and I am welcoming – how could she feel intimidated? She said it was because I am so pretty, and I immediately felt terrible. I used to be her, intimidated by the presence of others and their beauty, assuming that meant the absence of my own. Since then, I’ve grown. My confidence is unapologetic, my presence is undeniable, and my voice is stronger. There are times when my self esteem isn’t as high as it may seem, but I am working to remind myself that it is not about how others view you, but how happy you are with yourself and how my God sees me.
I never realized how beautiful of a feeling it was to not fit in. Unapologetically being myself is a wonderful feeling; having broken through the barrier of trying to please everyone while not being seen as anyone but a kindhearted girl who will get the job done is a freeing feeling. I love being me, and I will continue to be myself in the work place, on campus, and for the rest of my life.