Why can’t we go back to the days of childhood when you said whatever was on your mind without fear of judgement? Or wore whatever we wanted even if it was three different shades of purple because it was fun? Or even asking a question that was on your mind without caring if it was “stupid”? Those were the days. The days where we were so undeniably authentic and so incredibly ourselves. Unfortunately we get burned, hurt, and pushed aside for such acts once we hit a certain age and it breaks my heart.
Something I’ve always worked very hard on (especially during my high school career) is being 100% real. Let’s be honest though, there were some slip ups. Being genuine is one of the things that we’re always told to do, but when we are, a lot of the time we get cast aside for it. Which is such a shame. Despite that, I’d like to think that I’ve always been a very real person. Unfortunately, I know from experience that sometimes the people closest to you are the ones that you’re afraid to be your true self around. Looking back, that influenced me more than it should have. For the longest time I let others decide for me or take the lead. I’m not saying it was ever their fault, but there were so many times I wish I had spoken up. I let this bitterness grow inside of me for a long time because of it.
Ironically, leaving the public school I went to until sixth grade is what really jumpstarted my obsession to “be a certain way”. I was homeschooled after that and I felt myself slowly putting on a mask and going with the flow to make friends. I tiptoed around everyone and tried so hard to be this “perfect person”. Though, what ultimately created this inward battle was my decision to switch to a private christian school that I went to from 8th-12th grade. Now, I’m definitely not saying that I completely faked who I was or became this totally different person, but I certainly let others chip away at myself more than I should have. I was so eager to be liked by everyone and to “fit in” that I slowly forgot to like myself. I missed a lot of my 8th grade year due to illnesses. As one would assume, being new to a school and missing 80% of the school year was not easy. Of course by the middle of the year everyone already had their friend groups. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends and I made them fairly easily, but there were inside jokes I didn’t know, parties I wasn’t invited to, field trips I couldn’t make, an so on. Eventually I began to hate how I looked, how I spoke, and how my laugh sounded all because I felt ostracized. None of this was because people were mean to me or voluntarily left me out, but purely because I let others affect me to the point of self-hatred.
Then freshman year rolled around and things got interesting. I was struggling that year with so many things on top of my ever growing obsession with a need to be “perfect”. It was like day by day I let people have pieces of me to morph how they pleased. To clarify, I was never bullied in high school and everyone in my class was so kind to me, but I never felt a part of the group. Missing so much school definitely didn’t help and a part of me knew that by not being there I was missing out on a lot. Naturally, because of this I shut down. I, once again, put myself to the side.
Sophomore year took a turn in a very positive direction. I made it to school much more regularly, I made even stronger bonds with people in my school, and I for once didn’t feel like just the “sick kid”. I was class VP, made homecoming court, and started dating my boyfriend. Still, thinking about that year also makes me very sad, because no matter how hard I tried, I still put my happiness on the side in order to make sure everyone liked me. You see, the danger with doing this isn’t just depriving yourself of self-love, but also depriving the world of the truly beautifully authentic soul that God made you to be. I know in my heart that the Lord wept and pleaded for me to just love the person He made me to be, but I was deaf to the words He spoke to my heart.
Junior year was one of high highs and low lows. My health started to decline more and more with each day. I was giving up on trying and it showed. I lost the color in my cheeks, the little weight I could afford to lose, and the will to keep going. Though, I tried so hard to go to school because I feared that if I didn’t the friendships I worked so hard to make would fall apart. I’m sad to say that’s exactly what happened to a few of them. This is one of the harder things to write about because it includes a lot of heartbreak. In January of that year, my mom and momma Kathy signed me up to go to a program at Mayo Clinic for young adults with chronic illnesses. It was one of the hardest and most eye-opening experiences of my life. I was there for a month but it felt like a year; in both good and bad ways. I met people who understood the real me and I’m happy to say I’m still close with the majority of them. I was forced to be my 100% authentic self and I will never be able to thank the Lord enough for pushing me to that point. With this experience though came a lot of realization… Some of it was just plain hard to grasp, but a lot of it needed to be brought to my attention. God pulled and tugged at my heart until I knew changes had to be made.
When I got back from my stay at Mayo I promised myself that I would work hard on not putting on a face any longer. I would be the real, messy, imperfect person that we all are. Mostly though, I was working toward being a better version of myself. Which meant befriending people who had interests same as me, avoiding things that brought me down, and trying hard not to apologize for being real. Junior year ended on a fairly high note and summer went pretty smoothly. I wish I could say the same about senior year.
Now for the hardest chapter of my high school career–senior year. Let me preface this by saying that not everyone’s senior years are difficult, mine just happened to be one that was. Being my 100% real self wasn’t a problem at this point whatsoever, but it’s mind boggling that when you don’t let others affect you anymore, they suddenly pull away. Ah yes, this was the year of growing apart and growing up. After a VERY long time, I was finally taking off that mask and reaching out to that person God wanted me to be. However, that person He had in for store me, wasn’t meshing with the “old Macy’s” friends quite as well. I still love each and every person that I grew apart from and I wish them nothing but the absolute best, but I know in my heart some friendships can’t withstand the test of time. Looking back it’s funny how the friendships I had going into high school and the one’s coming out are totally different. Truly there’s only two things that attribute to that; God’s divine intervention and not letting myself put on a face that only a handful of people expected of me. I actually have more friends now than I did when I put my heart in other people’s hands and to me that’s pretty incredible. If you told 13 year old Macy that was case I would probably think you’re crazy. Honestly though, it wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine because I was never upfront on how certain things truly affected me. My heart was hurt by a lot by things people said about me my last year of high school, by actions that were made, and how things went down in general, but in all that mess I found myself and that has to count for something. Senior year broke my heart and strengthened it all at once and I wouldn’t go back and change a thing.
Somewhere along the way I woke up from this delusional dream that if you push your true self away and let other people mold you completely, that you’ll be happy. Let me tell you something, you are created to be DIFFERENT. We all can’t be carbon copies and God never intended it to be that way. So PLEASE, I beg of you to embrace the beauty that is being different from the rest. Don’t let yourself be so affected by what others think you should be and focus on being what God MADE you to be. Life is way too short and messy to not be happy. You’re never going to be perfect to every person you come across and I learned that the hard way. I’m so happy to say that now I try every day to be my true and authentic self. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways and I’m surrounded by people who encourage me to find the unique path God made for me. If you take anything from this, I hope it’s the encouragement to be authentic and real. To let yourself love who you are, and to most importantly listen to what God is speaking to you, because He will guide you to your perfectly personalized path.
I really hope you all enjoyed this post. It was a difficult one to write because it involved a lot of things that are hard for me to talk about on top of putting it on the most open platform there is; the internet. With that being said, there’s a sense of utter relief to have it out in the open. I hope it encouraged you in ways that I couldn’t even dream of. If you have questions feel free to email me (info provided on my Connect page). I would also love feedback in the comments section and possible ideas for future posts! Thanks a million for taking time to visit My Paradise! Have a blessed day!