20 Sep Dear Younger Me… Stop Worrying So Much About Gaining Acceptance
The struggles I’ve faced with gaining acceptance and validation from the people around me has plagued me for years. I was always worried about what other people thought or didn’t think about me. I was continuously wondering if people were secretly judging me and often felt the lies creeping in that people didn’t like me. I found myself in situations where I would bend my values (just a little at first, but then slowly more and more) and would allow my boundaries to be trampled all over, all in the hopes that I would find my place. Especially when it came to trying to impress boys. I was constantly trying to get some guy to half-heartedly like me. Ever been there? I continuously found myself people pleasing my way through life. Which in turn, left me in some major heart-breaking and uncomfortable situations. I often find myself looking back to 6 months ago, a year ago, even multiple years ago, and genuinely wish I could have saved myself from all the pain and suffering I endured. Some of it was self inflicted, some of it was at the hands of others. But no matter the source, a lot of heartbreak could have been avoided if I could just go back and give myself some words of advice.
The sad thing is, younger me probably would not have taken those words of advice to heart. I wish I could have crammed it into my stubborn head that “you’re not always going to be everyone’s cup of tea,” and that is okay! I see so many girls who are enduring the pain that I put myself through, just to feel loved and accepted by people who don’t deserve that much credit in their lives. It honestly breaks my heart to see girls not being true to themselves just to gain some boy or girls acceptance. I know all too well the pain of that heartbreak when all you want is to be wanted, but instead you ended up rejected… What I have learned amidst all that pain, is that all that suffering can be avoided if you just take a minute to step back, reassess, and realize that you do deserve more. It’s true when they say that the right people are going to love you and fit perfectly into your life without having to force it.
“Don’t chase people, chase something bigger. Chase your dreams. Continue to keep growing emotionally and spiritually. The right people will fall in line.”
I know for me, I always thought I had this little thing called life figured out. From the time I was a teenager I always had the mentality that I knew better than everyone around me. Anyone that knew me then knows that my life motto was “I do what I want.” My parents knew nothing, my friends knew nothing, and I spent every waking moment trying to control every single aspect of my life. It had to fit into this grand idea I envisioned. I thought I had figured out exactly how my life was going to turn out. College, marriage, kids… that was my dream and that is what I based my internal worth on. If I wasn’t in some type of relationship heading towards that goal, I found myself feeling worthless, not wanted, and rejected. During these difficult times, I was struggling to find my worth and identity in a series of broken relationships, and I hit rock bottom. I endured failed relationship after failed relationship and my self esteem came to an all-time low. I never would of admitted it back then, but I continuously struggled to find my happiness and validation from guys who truthfully didn’t care about me the way I wanted them too. If I am being 100% honest, I based my worth 90% on the guy I was dating. Even if it was clear to everyone around me that he did not fit, in my eyes it was better than no one… and soon after I started to lose my identity.
I struggled with letting my loneliness dictate my mood, and even worse, I would let the guy who so clearly did not belong in my life influence my mood. I would try and fill this void I felt in my heart with him, and when his broken self couldn’t make me happy, I’d either sabotage the relationship or somehow make everything wrong with me their fault because I didn’t “feel” happy. I was drawn to guys who were just as broken and as lost as I was, and it quickly became a game to try and win the approval of any guy that came into my life. The truth is that none of these guys should have had any business being in any relationships either. But, my lost little self had decided that’s where I should find my validation- I would base it entirely on if I could win him over or not. I would change my morals, do things I knew I shouldn’t, and quickly became a flake on friends and family, all so this guy would continue to think I was the bomb.com and would stick around. I was the queen of being a chameleon, and I slowly lost parts of who I was. I look back at all of this now and see just how lost and empty I really was. I was filling this longing in my heart to be whole, with all the wrong things. I figured that a bad relationship was better than no relationship and even if the relationship that was not good for me emotionally, I would stay because it was better than being all by myself. The struggle to conform to be someone he wanted me to be, just to say I had a relationship was never going to work out though. How could I base a relationship on lies and expect it to last? But at that point I would do anything to gain acceptance, and it started to control my life.
One of the major problems we deal with these days, is that so many of us feel the pressure to act a certain way, look a certain way, or think a certain way in order to be good enough and worthy enough to be liked or in a relationship and we constantly feel the need to show off how “good we are doing.” We feel so much pressure on a day to day basis to become someone we are not meant to be, just so we can fit in. Social media has become such a strong influencing force. Everyone is out there parading their perfect little lives around for everyone else to see and outsiders are left wondering why they don’t have that? Or why they can’t be that? We live in a society where people base their worth on likes on Instagram.As soon as you catch on to one trend, a new one is already popping up. How do you keep up?! It’s exhausting, and you’re left to feel like you’re always one step behind. I see and talk to so many girls who are stuck in the cycle of “I’ll never be good enough.” We look to others to set the standards for how to act and how to look. But the truth is that these standards are dang near unrealistic and nearly impossible to live up to, especially if it’s not reflecting the real you.
Through all my insecurities, I was constantly trying to people please my way through life.
“Do anything to get them to like you, Sarah!” This would play through my head on the daily.
So, like I said before, I would try and conform to fit a certain mold just to be accepted by people who had no business being in my life and it damaged me emotionally. I only ended up hurting myself. I would not only deal with toxic relationships longer than I should have, but I would also deal with toxic friendships longer than I should have. I would give in to doing things for people that I loathed doing and would partake in activities that I new were wrong, all to gain what? A little acceptance? I am not sure when I decided that losing myself was worth it, but I made an agreement with the devil it seems. I lost myself, I lost my identity, and I lost the person I was created to be because I was lying to myself and I was trying to be accepted by the wrong people.
It was at my rock bottom that I drug my butt back to church like a dog with its tail between its legs. I had nothing left to lose, and nothing left to hope for. I was numb, I was broken, and I was lost. I had heard some close friends talking about how I needed to find God, but I didn’t really know what it all meant. I grew up in a Christian home, but Jesus was never really encouraged to be a part of my life. He was someone you ran to when you needed help with a sick relative. We were always a family that went to church, knew stories from the bible, but when it came to having a real relationship with Jesus? That just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t the “churchy” type. I was the party girl, and I was not going to give that up. That was one identity I was firm and secure in. I knew what I wanted from life and it didn’t have Jesus in it. Besides, was Jesus even real?
Well, let me tell you… Jesus came in like a wrecking ball. Like literally! He wrecked my life, but wrecked it in a good way, ya know? He started tearing down lies I had believed, He started healing wounds I had let fester, and He slowly tore open my heart to show me all the ugliness I had been harbouring inside. Ugliness that was only hurting myself. The more I started to surrender to God, the more I craved pursuing Him. He is the one who can show you just how loved and cherished you really are! Afterall, he was the one who designed you. Think about it, if you’re trying to be someone you’re not, its basically telling God that He messed up. The truth of the matter is that God doesn’t make mistakes. He knows you, He loves you, and He knows your deepest desires. Self worth doesn’t come from others, it comes from inside you. But in case that isn’t enough, please realize that ultimately it comes from the One who created you. That’s where your identity is found. It took me so dang long, and I had to go through so many heartbreaks to realize that turning to the One who our hearts were designed to crave, will leave you feeling more confident and more sure of yourself than ever. Amidst all my brokenness I found the one who truly can change everything, and that was Jesus.
I still find myself looking back at my past and cringing. I want to go back and tell myself to stop stressing, stop worrying, stop caring what others think and just do you. I still sometimes struggle with this, I’m only human after all, but it’s definitely getting easier by the day. I know that that period in your life where you are trying to figure out who you are, and what you want to accomplish can be daunting, even frustrating. Some days you feel so lost, and some days you feel like you’re on top of the world. The 3 L’s: loneliness, low self esteem, and low self worth are something that we all deal with at some time or another. But don’t let these emotions control you. They are lies, lies that are unfortunately a part of our lives from time to time. If we are not careful, these lies can drive us into situations that we didn’t initially think we would end up in. They can make you feel like you need to be a different person to be loved and that you need to earn someone’s love. They can make you search for your validation in men, in your job, or even in your friendships. But Jesus says different, He says you are seen, you are loved, and you are cherished.
The worst thing I ever did to myself was conforming to be what I thought I had to be to get a guy to like me. To allow my values to be skewed, boundaries to be crossed, and ultimately hide who I truly was all to gain the acceptance of someone who didn’t really care enough to really care.
Ultimately, I found that as I surrendered into God’s plan, the stress of always having to worry about what other people thought about me has slowly faded away. I still have days that I find myself worried about judgement from others and trying to hide who I was created to be. But I am also learning that He has a plan for my life and for the relationships in my life. By submitting myself to that plan rather than having to control everything around me, I have slowly started to figure out who I am, what His plans are, and I’ve accepted that I can be myself. I no longer search for my validation through gaining acceptance from others. If you like me, awesome! Let’s be friends! But if you don’t, that is honestly okay too. So sweet girl, take the time to find yourself. Take the time to love who you are. Allow Jesus to rid you of that shame. You’re never going to end up happy if you continue to pretend you’re someone you’re not. You’re never going to end up happy if you continue to chase some boy who you have to prove to him you’re worthy. You are worthy! Don’t let that crown slip from your head. The right person will come in to your life at the right time. If they are apart of God’s plan for your life, they will be there.
9-10 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
1 Peter 2:9-10, MSG