I have taken some time out, and I feel a little better for it. I went and visited my family and some friends that I haven’t seen in a long time for just under 2 weeks. They live on the other side of the country. So I see my family once a year, aside from my Dad in law who comes to Cape Town every few months to see to his business. Seeing my friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen for around 5 years, really got me thinking. There is nothing like seeing people you love to give you perspective. They have changed in so many ways, and I had also changed in some ways. If we all change over the years, knowing who we are can be confusing at times, or is it?
I don’t really struggle with the question of who I am for the most part. I know that my family, friends, teachers and colleagues have all influenced who I have become to a certain extent, even strangers have at times. Situations have helped shape me. God has shaped me for certain, as a Christian I believe the core of who I am was created by Him. This may not be what you believe, as is your choice. And that, is the beauty of it. We choose who we want to be. We have a framework, and then we build onto it. I believe that when you choose to be someone you aren’t, it will go against the grain. I find it stifling. Not that being yourself is always easy, especially when we have those niggly things that just don’t fit in with the others in our group. We all want to fit in, and sometimes we will, and sometimes we won’t. It’s something we need to accept.
The problem comes in when our self worth is attached to things, and other people’s opinions of us, our jobs, or how much money we earn, and even how well we perform. We may attach the label successful, loved, loser, or failure to who we are. These things do not make us who we are. Sure, our specific talents, our personalities and how we handle certain things play a part in our careers, our relationships, and such, but those specific things (career, money, success, friends, etc) are not who we are. You are someone of value, and are capable of being loved and appreciated, not for what you do, but who you are.
Looking back I feel really blessed to have the family that I have, who encouraged me and looked after me, and did the best they could by me. I wasn’t ever forced into things that I didn’t want to do, and when I was given more freedom (because parents do have rules), I knew that they may not be happy with some decisions I made, and I would even be scared to tell them for sure, but I knew that I would still be loved and accepted. My group of friends in school were great. We were so diverse in terms of enjoying different things, having different personalities and even lifestyles, we were different races, different body shapes and sizes, really diverse. But we all accepted one another for who we were, not necessarily condoning the bad things, but definitely encouraging the good in each other, and just enjoying each other’s company and having fun. It is these people that I met up with, and could still chat to and have fun with even though we have changed.
Your life isn’t set in stone. So you may have made mistakes, you may be feeling lost, you may have some bad habits, etc. But you have the power to choose who you want to be, and what you want to do in each situation that you face. You have been created with the capacity to grow and try to improve on things that are not so great, and to excel at those things that are your strengths. So if you are an angry and bitter person, you can work on healing and letting go of all of that anger, and trying to live a life of joy instead. If you are a mean and rude person, you can change the way you think about and value others, so that you may treat others with kindness and respect. We also worry so much about failing, instead of trying our best and using our failures as lessons on how we can do things better.
Get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Know your morals and values. Stand firmly in who you are. The right people will surround you, as long as you let them. If you work with your strengths and talents, you will have a greater chance of gaining success. Know your self worth, and where it comes from. “God don’t make no junk”! Don’t sell yourself short. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone fails. Get back up and try again. If you are living as yourself, take joy in that. You are not perfect, but you will find that you are pretty great at being you.
Finally, give others the same courtesy. They are not perfect either. While we should have high standards for them, because that in my opinion is a sign of respect and belief in them, but we can’t expect them to be like us. They are talented in their own way. They will have different strengths and weaknesses. They should be allowed to be themselves, and excel at the things they are good at, and even fail at things they are bad at, without fear of being judged, or thought of as worthless or useless. Every time you call someone a bad name, speak badly behind their backs, or disrespect them, you are saying to them that they are not a valued human being. Every person has value.
No one is better or worse than someone else. That may hard for us to truly believe, in my case with criminals (we all have our good, bad and ugly parts), but the truth is that they are human beings who are valuable. We all need to live with the consequences of our actions, whether good or bad, that is the way life should work. But we are all still valuable people with the potential for good, no matter what we do. In short, be the best you that you can be, and let others be the best that they can be 🙂