Sunday, May 13, 2018

Growing Up (In the Best Way Possible)

As I prepare to not only graduate, but to turn 18 as well, I find myself reflecting on where God has brought me in my life and where I started out. I find myself remembering things that had slipped so far down into the cracks of my memory that I'm shocked when I find them again.

Eight years ago, I was looking in a mirror and wrinkling my nose at the person that looked back at me. Big ears. Small frame. Scraggly brown hair that wasn't curly or straight. Freckles. An overbite. Shorter than my younger sister and looking younger than I was. I didn't care for that person very much - they were oversensitive and not terribly smart and kind of annoying. Kind of lonely, too.

Six years ago, I looked in a mirror again and inwardly grumbled. Same big ears. Same tiny, petite frame. Same brown hair that was too thin to be pretty. Same freckles. I had braces now to help my gap-toothed overbite, but I didn't like them. At this point, I had nearly given up on catching up with Allie's height, and it was not uncommon for people my age to assume I was 2-3 years younger. That person was more insecure and confused and lonely than before.

Five years ago, I looked in a mirror and for the first time, really hated what I saw. Every quirk and seeming flaw I saw as being infinitely worse than it was. My eyes had not magically turned blue as I longed for them to my whole life and were still the same dull brown as they had always been. My hair was curly now, but I didn't like it because I didn't know what to do with it. Still some freckles, but while I had liked them at ten, I despised them at thirteen. Struggling with anxiety and extreme depression in private, I tried to find friends and typically failed. I was too anxious to please, too desperate and clingy - I didn't really know why no one would talk to me. Social awkwardness is not uncommon and I wasn't the only early teenager to struggle with it, but I assumed there was something wrong with me and for some reason, I was not as good as other people.

Four years ago, I was still struggling to curb my anxiety (although God had taken away my depression the year before) and I didn't even bother trying to deal with my insecurities because I figured it was all true. I was socially awkward. I wasn't pretty, although I felt pretty at times and that's almost as nice. It was the ugly-teenage-chicken stage (if you've ever seen a teenage chicken, you know what I'm talking about) and I resigned myself to it.

Three years ago, I joined a cadet program and realized if I worked hard, I could rise through the ranks and do well. I could join the camaraderie that the cadet officers and NCO's had with each other and fit in. Obviously I could never hold a leadership position and I took for granted that any idea I had to improve something had already been considered by the other cadets, so I didn't like speaking up. On reaching the rank of Cadet Staff Sergeant, I purposely requested that they would not give me a leadership position because I was not capable. No matter who the other options were, I considered myself as the rightful last option for any position or job.

Today I look in the mirror, as I have countless times before without even thinking about it. Dark eyes that I have slowly come to terms with. Brown, curly hair that I'm learning how to tame. Straighter teeth that smile and laugh back at me. My ears are big - I've been told so and been made fun of for it a few times, but I don't mind. I owned it and learned to wiggle them at the people that bothered me about them. I have more confidence than ever before, and for the first time in my life I know that I'm smart - even though I've been told so countless times before, I never accepted it until now. I've got a best friend that has my back no matter what and am surrounded by good, godly friends that care about me and make me feel included. I love leading and working with people, and I accept that I will make mistakes sometimes and that God will forgive me and give me second chances. I'm completely capable and I get excited about new challenges.

Maybe someday I'll look in the mirror and see someone fearless, someone completely given up to God's will for her life. I'm trying to become that person and I'm learning to be patient.

4 comments:

  1. can i just say how much i loved this? I've been following your blog for a while now and it's been so wonderful to watch you grow in Jesus.. try not to beat yourself up, bc girl, you are on the right track and its all ok with God -- you are moving forward, that's what matters. God doesn't keep track of the steps you take backwards. so yeah, thx for being honest, Elizabeth. its really inspiring <33

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    1. Aw, thank you! I appreciate that more than I can say. I've taken an extensive break from reading blogs, but yours has been one of my favourites for a long time! :)

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  2. This is very touching. Please keep writing!

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  3. I think you'll do just fine dear. Kudos to you!

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