On my very first day as an intern in Washington D.C. this summer, I went to a meeting on Capitol Hill with my boss. After having to throw away my lunch in the security line because I was unaware that you couldn’t bring food into the Capitol building and sitting through a meeting where I had little idea of what was even happening, I saw some other interns and was excited to meet them. I introduced myself excitedly, happy to see people my age and hoping to make some new connections. I wasn’t very well prepared for the response I got. Upon introducing myself to another intern, instead of introducing himself back, he asked coldly, “What congressman do you work for?” Essentially asking, “How important are you?” I stumbled over my words a little, trying to explain that I’m interning for a public policy organization, not a congressman. He cut me off, and folding his arms asked, “Well do you have a business card?” In my head I started to rant, “Do I have a card? I’m twenty, an intern, and it’s my first day. Of course I don’t have a card, sir.” But outwardly I just responded with a simple no. Upon my answer, he instantly turned around and walked away; he was apparently unhappy with the answers I gave and decided I wasn’t worth his time.
Why do I tell this story? Because immediately my head started to fill up with thoughts and frustrations about not being good enough or important enough. Instantly, I felt like I had to impress, measure up, and be something and someone other than who I was to really succeed in this new environment. Instead of just chalking the situation up to a weird moment with someone who obviously needed a little bit of humbling, I subconsciously attributed the situation to my personal worthiness. This is one of the many situations that I think most of us face daily, when the question of worthiness confronts us and we have a choice about how to think. In a matter of moments, my brain had created this version of myself that I needed to be and made a list of things I needed to do in order to prove that I was important enough. It seems a little ridiculous, but as women we do it all the time. Whether it’s celebrities or just other girls at our school, there is this ideal of who we should be and how we should be it. And we so often let our worth be determined by how we measure up in comparison with that standard. In a book I’m reading called, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown sums this cycle up perfectly saying, “When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving.” I don’t know about you, but I have spent a lot of my life trying to fit into a projected image of myself, and I can tell you, it only results in frustration, restlessness, and self-dissatisfaction. It is exhausting trying to perform, perfect, please, and prove.
It is so tiring and such a dead end because it is not what we were created for. The idea of “fitting in” or “fitting a mold” is in itself restrictive. I was not created to fit into anything, because no constructed image of you or me can hold the real, true, women that we are. We are so much more than who we outline ourselves to be. The only real way to break free from this is authenticity. In the same book, Brene Brown says, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” Letting go. Releasing the image of who we think we are supposed to be. Erasing those lines we have drawn for ourselves and let other draw for us as well. Breaking down the walls of the boxes that we have let ourselves be put in, and embracing who we really are. And guess what? Embracing who we truly are comes naturally when we let go. When those other images no longer crowd our minds, we can see who we truly are. When we let go, we can be who we are because we are not so worried about who we should be.
A few minutes after the incident, I decided to think differently. I needed to remember who I really was, and that had nothing to do with the perception of the person that had been standing before me minutes earlier. It has to do with Jesus Christ. And because of Jesus Christ, I am a woman with dignity, value, goodness, beauty, and purpose. And that is my authentic self despite every single external circumstance that may come. I could never ever end up getting a business card, and that would still be my identity. Jesus has ransomed me through His death and resurrection. I am seen and I am loved by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. And as elementary as it may seem, that is the main truth that needs to define me in each and every moment of each and every day. Without this, feeling worthy and being truly authentic are impossible. So I embraced those truths, and I moved on. About ten minutes later met a group of interns who were so nice and awesome. But I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I didn’t change my thought process in that moment, if I didn’t choose to believe in my worthiness and grab hold of my authenticity. I’m not sure exactly who is reading this, and I’m sorry for my boring story, but whoever you are, I guarantee that you are selling yourself short. You are so much more than you think. You are more beautiful, lovelier, stronger, and a more integral part of the world than you think. So I want you to stop thinking that. I want you to choose to be your authentic self. Ask Jesus to help you let go, and He will. Choose to think that you are worthy, because you are.
P.S. You are a LIONESS! (Aka a female lion aka super fierce and AWESOME) Seriously, look at this creature; she is beautiful and so epic. Now, let me hear you roar all the way in Washington D.C.
Image via Pixfocus