It is human nature to want to be liked and to be accepted. That in itself is not a problem. The problem with the need to be accepted comes when the validation that we get from others begins to shape who we think we are and how valuable we feel we are. Sometimes this is innocent enough. For example, your close friends constantly shower you with compliments and “You, go girls!” They lift you up when you are down and when you are around them you feel on top of the world. It’s healthy to have people around you who see the good in you and make sure you know it and feel it. In contrast, when someone who we deem as “important” to our lives whether it’s a friend, spouse, or boss tells us over and over that what we’re doing, what we’re saying, how we’re living, or the way we dress is not good enough, we may begin to feel that this is true. We may begin to feel that as long as we can win their favor, as long as we can keep them happy with us, then we are worth something. We may even begin to question our abilities and our purpose. We neglect our dreams and our passions and our ideas trying to be the “right” person for someone else. We beat ourselves up if a review or evaluation comes back negative. We instantly regret a decision if it isn’t met by a bunch of head nodding and words of affirmation.
But you are so much more than what one person or even one hundred people can tell you about yourself! God did not make a mistake when He created you!
When we are kids, the biggest part of our lives is having acceptance from our friends and fitting in with the crowd; it is rare to find a confident teen who doesn’t care what his/her classmates think about him/her. Being different is almost like having a disease; kids go out of their way to avoid you, as if your differences are contagious. No one wants to be “that” kid at whom everyone stares and points and laughs.
However, as we grow older, our lives should begin to change. With age comes wisdom. We should start to acknowledge, accept and appreciate our uniqueness, those traits that make us stand out from the crowd, that make us who we are. We should be standing on tables or even shouting from rooftops, “Look at me! See why I’m awesome!” We should never let someone else’s opinion of us to make or break us. We have to become strong enough in ourselves, the person that God has created us to be so that no one or nothing can shake us. Now please don’t get me wrong. I am not in any way saying that we should not be open to constructive criticism when someone is truly trying to help us become a better person or become better at our jobs. The opinions that I am referring to are those that are meant to belittle you or to make you conform to what someone else thinks you should be just because it will make them more comfortable or make them feel in control. I am referring to those opinions that tell you that in order to be a part of my world, to be accepted by me, you must be like this or be like that. I am talking about those opinions that have you questioning your intelligence, your self-esteem, your beauty, your worth.
The discovery of my worth has definitely been a part of my journey from a caterpillar into a butterfly. Even as a young adult, I spent time worrying about what someone else would think of me when they saw me: how I looked, how I dressed, how I acted. I was afraid to be too different because then I would not be accepted. When I cut off my perm and went natural back in 1998, it was one of the biggest moves that I made in the pursuit of “finding me.” Everyone thought I was crazy. Shoot, I even thought I was a little crazy, but I also knew that I loved, loved, loved natural hair: afros, twists, dreads. But during a time when everyone wasn’t joining Team Natural, it was a crazy thing to do. My friends (most of who are natural now, LOL) gave me the side-eye and said they would NEVER do that. But I did it anyway. I wish I could say that that from that experience that I just blossomed into the woman I am today, but it didn’t. I was in college and still felt the pressure to fit in, so that was about as radical as I dared to be. What I didn’t fully recognize then, but I can see now, was that I did revel in the fact that my hair was different, that I had chosen to make such a bold move, and this actually set me on a path to be able to make more radical moves in the future.
I love how the author of the book, You’re a Bad***: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, offers action steps at the end of most chapters outlining how to best achieve that chapter’s lesson whether it be learning how to forgive others or how to stop procrastinating or how to kick fear to the curb. The best part of each of these chapters is that the last action step was always the command to “Love Yourself”. Jen Sincero understands that through it all, despite everything good, bad, and ugly about us, that we are all on the same journey and the easiest way to get through it all is just to love yourself with no apologies for who you are, regardless of how others feel about you or see you. Here’s one of my favorite quotes that I found recently.
I’ve always admired those people who can truly laugh at themselves, pointing out their own flaws. They turn what someone else might have used to make fun of them and put them down with into a witty joke or a quick laugh for all to share. Anyone dumb enough to try to later point out that person’s flaws would look stupid and ignorant. That’s the way that we all need to be. We need to be so comfortable with ourselves that everyone else has no choice but to love us and respect us for who we are. I know that this seems easier said then done. However, if you are armed with the fact that you are “fearfully and wonderfully” made by God, that God’s “love endures forever” not just when we are good but even we are bad and selfish and rude and envious, that there is nothing that we have to do, can do, to make God love us any more than He already does or any less, this should make you walk boldly and confidently out into the world fearless, swatting away insults and judgement from others like annoying flies at a summer picnic. What others say about you is insignificant in comparison to what GOD says about you. I don’t know about you, but just that thought makes me stand taller and renews my strength.
I challenge us all that we begin to start each day with the thought that we are worth so much more than any one man or woman can say about us. Don’t let the little things of life beat you down and steal your joy. Love yourself unconditionally. Improve on those things that will help you to be a blessing to others. Know your worth and with that remember that other people are just as valuable as you are and deserve to be treated as such. If we all spend time seeing each other the way that God sees us all and helping to bring value to other people’s lives, this world could become a better place. Our worth is not contingent upon what kind of car we drive, our jobs, our homes, the number of followers we have on social media, or our next evaluation at work. Our worth is built only in the fact that God created us, loved us enough that He gave His Son, and we are more than enough in His sight.
Know your worth!