So today I want to talk about something kind of deep. Something that we don’t always discuss like we should. Something that is often deemed taboo and inappropriate to voice our opinions on. But after having this topic on my mind for a while, listening to a message about it in church on Sunday, and then again hearing Oprah bring it up in her powerful speech at the Golden Globes, I figured it was a sign that I should probably say what I need to say about it.
Long story short, I am a very anxious person. I am always looking towards what’s next and hate not having an answer for something. I like routine, structure, and alone time. I have gone back and forth about how I feel about this. Some days I am completely fine being comfortable at home with my books, but other days I really wish I was more outgoing and wanted to put myself out there. This gets me thinking about why I am the way that I am. And maybe you relate to me, or maybe you are a social butterfly, but it is regardless a question we can all ask ourselves – Why am I this way?
Why do I have the tendencies that I have? Why do certain things make me tick that don’t affect others in the slightest? How does the trajectory of my life define the type of person that I am today? All valid questions and ones that I think we all deserve to know the answers to.
I go to a big, non-denominational church. I wouldn’t call myself a religious person at all, but spiritual for sure. To be honest, I go there for the life lesson part of it. They are doing a series called Crave during the month of January about – you guessed it – cravings. This week’s was about craving the approval of others. The main message boiled down to the fact that we do things in our everyday life that we think are our choices, but sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes what we are used to doing is just so ingrained in our heads from someone else that we think we are living the life we want, but it turns out that we really aren’t.
Then I heard Oprah’s speech. Wow. I couldn’t even do it justice to describe it to you, but just go watch the video that I linked above if you haven’t heard it yet. One of the lines she said stuck out to me the most:
“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared speak the truth to the power of those men.”
I have to preface this by saying that I had a wonderful childhood. I grew up in a loving, “normal” household and have so many fond memories of that time. I’m not sure when I began to fall into the category of feeling like I am “not heard or believed if I dared to speak up,” but when Oprah said that line something inside of me clicked. That could not be more true.
Whether we know it or not, I truly believe that so many of us have this little voice in the back of our head that is telling us to just stay there or be quiet or be smaller or don’t stand up for yourself or just let it go. That voice inside of me is extremely strong.
When I really sat back and thought about it today, I came to the conclusion that my introversion, anxiety, and need for approval from others stems from the fact that I hate being the center of attention. But why is that? I don’t really know, but if I had to guess today I would say it is because I am not confident with who I am as a person. I have a long way to go to be where I want to be in multiple areas of my life, and I feel like until I am there, I should just hide away in my house and work towards getting there. Now that I say that out loud, I realize how silly it sounds. Is that any kind of way to live?
I am 26 years old, and who knows how long it will take me to get to where I want to be. If I am thinking logically about it, I will probably never be there. There will always be something else to strive for – perfection does not exist.
If I sit around and wait until I am 100% happy with my body, I will miss out on so many social events with my friends where I will be wearing clothes that I think don’t flatter me.
If I sit around and wait for “permission” from someone to speak my mind, I will constantly have ideas floating around in my head with nowhere to go and will increasingly become more cynical.
If I sit around and wait to take a trip because I feel like we should be saving money, I will miss out on seeing the world.
If I sit around and wait for the day when I finally feel like I have a purpose on earth, I will miss out on so many opportunities to discover what that is and will likely delay the process even more.
These are just a few of the many examples of things that encourage me to stay at home. Things that I feel like I need approval from someone else to do. Things that give me anxiety and a pit in my stomach when I think about them. Things that should be a normal part of life (and are for many people), but that bring me great stress.
So today I want to give myself permission to do the things that make me uncomfortable, but only when I want to. I want to feel free to put myself out there if I want to, but to not feel shame if I need a quiet day at home. I think that so many more people struggle with this than we know, but if we all start to speak out about it, it might become a productive discussion instead of something to be ashamed of.