Growing up, I was a people pleaser. I only felt worthy when someone laughed at my jokes, invited me to their birthday party, patted me on the back and said “good job”, chose me as their lab partner (and not because there’s no one left), or even sat with me in the cafeteria. I loved getting people’s attention. In a positive way of course.
Unfortunately, I didn’t always get the kind of attention I was seeking. I was teased, made fun of, humiliated publicly and disrespected by some of my peers. Now that I look back, those people who behaved badly towards me, they didn’t mean anything to me. They weren’t my friends, and honestly, I’m happy about that. But back then, in the moment, I wanted desperately to be accepted by them. I wanted them to think I was cool.
You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to my teen years!
It tormented me knowing that some people didn’t like me. That some people didn’t understand me and didn’t even care to try.
I started changing who I was, bit by bit. I figured if people didn’t like me, it must be because there was something wrong with me. Right? It makes sense. Well, at least to a 14 year old it did!
By the time I graduated high school, I didn’t know who I was anymore and guess what? I still had people who didn’t like me. Sigh.
In University, I was able to start fresh. Nobody knew me there. I could reinvent myself and start all over again. I made new friends and grew in confidence. But guess what? I still had people who didn’t like me. Sigh.
One thing I did notice though, is that it didn’t bother me as much as it used to. I mean, I still wanted to please everyone and I much preferred it when people liked me. But I didn’t try as hard to please everyone. The world was far too big to please EVERYONE.
But I was still afraid to completely be myself. I was terrified that someone saw who I really was. That I wasn’t really as confident as I seemed. That I put my foot in my mouth regularly. That I didn’t believe I was worthy of their affection and friendship. That I was a mess.
Now, as an adult, I’m finally taking my masks off. It’s taken me a LONG time to feel comfortable enough to do so. I’m tired of being someone else. I just want to be me. Just me.
Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
As a Christian, I now understand that my worth is in Christ. Not in Earthly things or even in people. It doesn’t matter what people think of me. It matters what Jesus thinks of me. If Jesus thought I was important enough to die for, well, I can’t be all that bad. If I am the daughter of a King, that makes me a princess. That’s pretty cool! If God created me, I must be made exactly and precisely the way he wants me to be. It would be an insult to change anything about me just to please others. And frankly, I’m a bit insulted if anyone asks me to change just to please them.
I’m embarrassed to say just how long it took me before I finally got it. Before I finally understood my own worth. I based my worth on other people’s opinion for far too long. Now I find my worth in Jesus.
Do I still try to please others? Yes.
Do I still get hurt by the negative comments of others? Oh yes.
The difference between the me now and the me then, is that I know where to go for help when I’m stuck internalizing all the negative chatter. I know who to turn to when I can’t deal with it on my own. I am honest with my weaknesses. I know I’m not perfect and I’m fully aware I can’t please everyone. I seek my Christian family and of course, the Word of God for guidance.
The ways of the world are to seek guidance from Oprah, or Dr. Phil, or anyone else who claims to have all the answers. While I do believe they have valuable information to share, the only person in this world who has my best interest at heart, is Jesus. The only person that will always be there for me, is Jesus. The only person who will never steer me wrong, is Jesus.
I’m sorry Jesus that it took me so long to find you.