revelation 

IMG_8507IMG_8524IMG_8515IMG_8510IMG_8529IMG_8513IMG_8516IMG_8528IMG_8538This post was supposed to be a simple one about how silly I am for wearing a cozy turtleneck in the summer, or red lipstick when the heat will melt it right off my face as soon as I step outside. But, as I was writing it, I couldn’t kick this story, so we’re running with it.

Let’s pretend this is Gossip Girl, and we’ll call the Community Leader Mentor (kind of like a head RA), during my first year working in Collins, “K”. I’d met K the first day of my freshman year when my Dad thought she was my CL, and had so much respect for her from the start. K is hilarious, confident, pretty, energetic, kind, bright, joyful. She has a way of making people feel special and heard; I’m still not 100% convinced that she isn’t perfect.

At first, I was so amazed that I could be on the same staff as a person like K. What did that say about me, and my clearly amazing leadership and community-building skills (please tell me you can hear the sarcasm)? Yet, a month or so into being a CL, I was exhausted. Worse, I felt deflated and defeated. I could never be a CL like K was. I’d never be as engaging, as entertaining, as hilarious, as role-model-ey as she was. What was I even doing?

Around that time, K had to meet with all the new CLs, to see how we were doing. We went to Common Grounds; K knew the baristas by name and they, of course, knew her, and brought her drink out in her own mug, and I had never been more impressed in my life. This was who I had to be! So effortlessly impressive, so casually confident, so unassuming and kind…I didn’t want to think about the disparity between K and myself. I don’t remember how we got there’d but I know I didn’t say a thing to prompt her, when suddenly K stopped and said:

“You can’t do the comparison thing. You might see something in me and think that it’s different for you, and that’s because it is. We can never impact people the same way: so, yeah, maybe you can’t do what I can, but I can never do what you do.”

I’m someone that tends to see other people with the flower wreath snapchat filter and myself in the funhouse mirror filter (you know what I’m talking about!), so that moment was one of the most defining moments of my college career. I had this revelation, and it sounds so elementary but it actually shook me–I was unique. And not for the things that I did like other people, but for the things I did without thinking, from my heart. There was something about me that didn’t need to be covered up, or disguised as someone else’s strength, and it was actually enough to be my own strength.

Once I realized that, it changed so many different parts of my life. I was able to pursue more authentic relationships, because I was focusing on emotional honesty and not just filtering myself to appease other people. I stopped worrying about if people were judging me for overdressing, because I felt confident in the outfits I put together. Even my relationship with God deepened, when I realized that God wasn’t interested in how well I imitated the Christians around me, and loved me because He is love, and not because of my performance. I’m not perfect, far from it, and I still have a lot of growth to do when it comes to comparison. But that growth starts with the realization that I matter, and I am made to exist as more than a shadow or reflection of the things around me.

I hope that you, reading this now, know that that’s true about you. That your smile isn’t beautiful because it looks like someone else’s, and your heart doesn’t mean more because it beats to a familiar rhythm. You are enough, and more, and that’s not conditional on who’s around you at any given moment. You are loved, and admired, and inspirational because of you. Giant grey sweaters and red lipstick might not be your thing, and that is so okay. Find the things that are, the little quirks that make other people laugh and say “of course; only you” when they see it, and then have the courage to smile about it.

{ Sweater: Kohl’s|| Shorts: thrifted || Shoes: keds }

3 thoughts on “revelation 

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