As far as knowing who I am is concerned, I stayed stuck at 14 for a long time. Prayerfully, this will help other 14 year olds to turn 15.
Two years ago at a retreat I attended, God broke through to me. I was “acting” for so long, I didn’t even realize it was killing me. I was broken and tired when I arrived. You couldn’t tell by looking at me and I didn’t even realize it myself to tell you the truth. I was riding high emotionally having just given birth to Jazmine five weeks prior. I was thinking about that experience today.
Growing up, my parents, my Mommy in particular, kept telling me to be myself. “Well, what is that?”, I would wonder. I didn’t know how to be myself. What I really meant, and what I should have said, was, “What is it that you see in me that is “myself” so that I can be it everywhere else?”
The people who know you the best see you for who you are and what you are in a way that you don’t even realize. They want you to show that side of you outside in the real world. I didn’t know that way back then. I was one way at home, one way at church, and another way at school. At home, I was just straight-up melancholy me. At church, I was Ms. Perfection, having to do everything right; having to have the correct answer or the expected response to any question asked. At school, I was a Sybil. I was someone different every day. I tried to have a bit of everyone’s personality. Any success that someone had socially, I wanted to copy so I could share in that success as well. If someone spoke in a matter-of-fact tone, I tried that. If someone made a joke of everything, I tried that. If someone acted very quite, I tried that. Basically, I tried every variant of personality types to try to figure out which one had the most social success. I could be a different person every day, week, month, or semester. When something stopped working, I would be on the prowl for something else to try. Why? Because my personality didn’t grant me the social acceptance I was looking for.
I wanted to feel important in my social circles.
I enjoyed being with the life of the party Sanguine. I enjoyed having Choleric friends (as long as they didn’t challenge me). I enjoyed peaceful Phlegmatics because they were typically smart, desperate for friends like I was, and would let me cheat off of them. But because I changed so often, I was never one person long enough to build character that I was proud of let alone lasting friendships.
I meant people along the way that had a strong sense of self. They knew who they were. The were honest about the things they didn’t know and they remained the same despite the various K-12 tribulations. They were the top two things that I desired to be but was not.
I’ve seen, and continue to gaze with fondness, the outcomes of those people who knew who they were at an early age. They are not afraid to stand alone (though they don’t stand alone for very long), they have very rich relationships, and they are a joy to be around.
I’m still trying to get there. I didn’t know who I was until the retreat. That was my epiphany moment. It’s been two years since then. I am light years behind others who discovered themselves during K-12. They have sown such a richness in their lives for so long and heir harvest (reaping) is tremendous. I stand in awe of them.