For so many years, I spent my days feeling inadequate and dealt with all the feelings that go along with it—insecurity, lacking confidence, and living my life in fear of never being enough.
I knew it was a struggle, but for so long I just could not shake it. I have done so much praying and soul-searching over the years, trying to get to the root of where those feelings came from.
I know many times God uses the wisdom of other people to help us have our own breakthroughs.
One day I overheard someone talking about how we make a bigger impact when we aren’t trying to be something that we are not; rather, we should be more of who we are.
It really resonated with me.
For so long, I internalized what others said about me. If they thought I was too this, or not enough of that, it became my truth. Without even realizing it, I was subtly trying to change myself and be more of what I thought was admirable in other people.
I needed to find my identity in God and how he made me to be.
There are character traits that are ingrained in us, and there are other thought patterns (and therefore, behaviors) that are just struggles. There is a difference.
One thing that is deeply ingrained into my being is introversion. For many years I thought that shyness and introversion were the same thing (they are not—we will get to that). Introversion and extroversion basically tell us what drains us, and what energizes us. If you tend to feel more energized when interacting with people and talking about what is on your mind, you are most likely extroverted. If you feel drained around a crowd and more energized when alone and able to be introspective, you are likely more introverted. It isn’t that extroverts don’t like being alone or that introverts don’t like people. It is more about what gives you energy. I love being around people and absolutely need others in my life. But, I require time to be by myself to think and reflect (and write blog posts about it :)) in order to recharge my batteries. Extroverts tend to get their fuel when interacting with others.
In addition to being introverted, I used to be extremely shy. This was more of a struggle and not necessarily a personality trait, like introversion. Apparently I used to dance around the house and talk my parents’ heads off, but in public, people told them they didn’t think I could talk.
Shyness basically means being nervous or timid around people. I have always been prone to anxiety, so my introversion often manifested itself as shyness. I developed a fear of people and what they thought of me. As I got older, God worked in me to release this anxiety. I learned to find my approval and worthiness in Him, not from other people. This will always be a journey. Being more aware that people are not really thinking about you has also helped me break free from those concerns. (It sounds negative, but it is true! Most of us are preoccupied with what is going on in our own lives.)
Because I was so quiet and reserved growing up, people often underestimated me when it came to certain things. I did not feel confident, so others did not feel confident in me. Because people did not feel confident in me, it fed my feelings of inadequacy. This lead to feeling even less confident in myself, and the cycle just continued.
I remember people saying I could not do certain things because I was “too quiet” or “too shy.” I tried out to be a cheerleader in the 7th grade. (I danced and loved gymnastics, so it appealed to me.) I did not make it that first year because they said I was “too quiet,” regardless of my physical abilities. I made it the next year, and cheered throughout high school, but that message always stuck with me. I am a very determined person, and I did not like to be underestimated.
In college, I figured out that when you appear confident, people have more confidence in you. So, I decided to “fake it till you make it.” I often pushed myself to do things that scared me, even though I did not always feel confident. Even though that confidence slowly grew, I got used to pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. People love talkative, confident people, so that was who I aspired to be. Being more reserved was often viewed as a negative thing, so I pushed myself to be more outgoing.
I continued this habit into my career. Honestly, the habit of pushing myself out of my comfort zone did help me break through my social anxiety, or shyness. I consider myself an “outgoing introvert,” because I love being around people and interacting with others. The timidness only comes out every now and then, such as when I’m around people in authority or when meeting famous people—true story. (See picture.) But, I used to beat myself up for not being more naturally talkative and “on” all the time. It was not until later that I embraced my introverted nature as a strength instead of viewing it negatively.
Although pushing myself beyond my comfort zone did help me overcome my social anxiety, I had to learn to balance things out. Instead of berating myself for not being a certain way, I had to figure out what I am best suited for. It was no longer about being something I wasn’t, but rather finding true confidence, what I call “God confidence.” “God confidence” is the confidence you get when you find your true identity in God and fully embrace how he made you.
Honoring how you were made does not mean you will never push yourself out of your “norm” in certain situations, such as serving someone in the way they need to be served in that moment, but it means you spend most of your time being mindful of how you were created. There are times God calls me out of my comfort zone, but I am doing so because He is giving me the strength to do it, not because I am trying to earn others’ approval.
My worth is not determined by how talkative I am or how long I can last at a party without getting tired. I used to place my worth on those things instead of embracing how I was made. I love how I am wired. I love to read/listen to books, and to write, and to be introspective. I have learned to see it as a strength and not a weakness.
By being more aware of how I am wired, I know that I need to make time to sit and be reflective in order to recharge. I know that I prefer working one on one with others instead of in groups, and I need time built into my day to think and reflect. I know that I love to communicate through writing, so I am doing more of it.
Instead of feeling like you need to be more like this person or that person, be more of WHO YOU ARE. God made us different for a reason because we all have different things to offer.Follow me on social media: