Self-Confidence

If you post nothing but positivity and perfection on social media, you make everyone else feel bad.  While everyone also believes that there is absolutely no way your life is that perfect.

You’re just faking it.

You shouldn’t brag about your accomplishments.

But you shouldn’t have low self-esteem.

Do this.

Don’t do that.

Act this way.

Don’t be absurd.

Why are you being like that?

Just be real.

Oh, but not that real.

Share your feelings.

But only if they’re positive.

But be real.

Admit your struggles.

But don’t talk bad about yourself.

Have self-confidence.

But be humble about it.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Because it certainly does to me.  There is such a fine line between self-confidence and self-deprecation that it’s truly a wonder if any of us have a small measure of mental health.

After a lifetime of never feeling like I was good enough, or smart enough, or just plain enough…I finally feel like I’m maybe, almost making a little bit of progress.  Not to say that this isn’t a daily struggle.  Because it is.

But…

I know that I do not need to settle for anything less that I deserve.  And when I say that, I mean…I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m strong, I’m stubborn, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m a million different things.

And when I say that I shouldn’t settle for anything less than what I deserve, I will not settle for anything less than someone or something that sees who I truly am, and isn’t fearful of that.  I will not surround myself with people who choose to put me down instead of lift me up.

We often get so focused on what other people think of us, and how other people make us feel about ourselves that we lose sight of what is truly important.

God.

Not only who God is to us…Father, Creator, Friend, Strength…but also who we are to God…loved child.

We.  Are.  Loved.

Daily, we are surrounded by so much love, it can be overwhelming, it can seem false, but it is never unfailing.

Never.

Do you need to read that again?

Because God’s love for you never fails.

No matter what you’ve done.  No matter how unloving you have acted.  God’s love for you has never failed.

It seems incredible, doesn’t it?  That someone loves us without any type of condition laid upon us.

Yet, it’s the truth.

So…

How can that truth help us navigate the tricky path that I laid out above?

Let’s talk about the word humble.  The act of “being humble” does not mean self-deprecating.

To be self-deprecating means to put yourself down.  To say that you are less valuable that you actually are.

But to be humble means to have knowledge and confidence in who you are, and knowing that all you are, all you have, is because of God.

Does that solve a lot of problems?

Well, yes.

I will.  Maybe not instantly.  But it will definitely solve a lot of problems.  And it will help you build a more firm foundation to navigate the rest of the challenges that life throws your way.

So now that we have the easy answer out of the way…what does this really look like?  How do we begin to implement this in our lives?

It isn’t easy.

It isn’t fast.

But it is so worth it.

God didn’t create worthless pieces of junk.

So maybe one of the things that you need to do is take some time to really look at yourself, and who you are, and the things that you offer to the world around you.  Write out a list of all of the good things that you are if you need to.  Turn it into a poster and hang it on your wall if you need to.  Whatever you need to do to remind yourself of your value.

Read your Bible.  I cannot stress this enough.  You must spend time reading, studying and understanding God’s words to truly understand who He is.  I can sit here and type until my fingers bleed about who God is.  But until you actually get into a relationship with Him, you won’t really know Him.

Now…can the Bible be complex, and overwhelming?  Absolutely.  It can be terrifying.

But it’s ok to be afraid, and still move forward and do it.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

Maybe take it slow if you need to.  Get help when you need it.  Ask questions.  Just, please, make sure you’re asking for help from people who have some understanding of the Bible.

Once you have taken those 2 steps, something will naturally happen.  You start to take a look at what you’re doing, who you’re surrounding yourself with, and you really start to take a look inward about whether you need to make any changes in your life.

And guess what?

Those negative voices that have surrounded you in the past, the voices that have tried to bring you down…once you stand up for yourself, and have confidence in yourself, those negative voices tend to weed themselves out.

Not always (unfortunately) so you may need to make some drastic changes to your social scene.

But you won’t be sorry for it.

My friend, you are loved.  You are amazing.  Now go have an amazing day!!!

Is It Real?

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Is this real?

Over the past few weeks, I have asked this question a few times.  Once, even, to myself.  

In this social media era, it is often times difficult to tell what is actually real, compared to what people want you to believe is real.  

If you choose only to share the best part of yourself with the social media world, are you lying?  If you put a positive spin on things, are you really lying about what is going on? And if you DO choose to share some of the struggles you are going through, are you only looking for sympathy?  

Honestly, you can’t win.  No matter what, people will judge you.  

A couple of years ago, a major, life altering, huge, horrible thing happened to my best friend in the whole entire world.  Her husband type person died. We are far too young to need to deal with something like this. Yet, there we were. We dealt with it.  We did the days in the hospital, the tears, the fear of the unknown, the memorial service. We dealt with it all.  

A week ago, she and I had dinner.  And I asked her the question. “Is it real?”

Because the woman that deserves all of the wonderful things in life is in the midst of getting them.  6 months ago she started dating a new fella. And, being their 6 month anniversary, all of the mushy, lovey, vomit inducing posts started.  So, you wonder, is it all real? Are things really going this well?  

And with a gigantic smile on her face, she tells me “yes.”

That’s all I need to know.  Because let me clue you in on a little secret.  Her husband type person that died, things weren’t good with them when he died.  In fact, most of their relationship hadn’t been good. I knew it. Because there were times she came to visit me, that I didn’t want to let her leave.  

But, when someone dies, how do you publicize that?  

My pastor recently read an obituary, written by the man’s daughter.  The obituary was full of brutally honest details of how horrible the man had been.  That type of brutal honesty is rare. 

And for my friend, it wasn’t appropriate.  Yes, their relationship wasn’t good. But the grief that she felt, that she experienced, the grief was absolutely real.  

Months later, she honestly exposed her heart about that grief.  About the days she couldn’t get out of bed. The days she still struggled to move forward.  But that day, she had taken care of herself. Forced herself to shower, and to eat.  

And because I know her heart as well as anyone’s, I knew her intent was to be brutally honest with the world.  She wasn’t looking for sympathy, or condolences. She was simply being honest.

One of the conversations she and I had in the midst of her grief revolved around social media, and how difficult it is to look at when you aren’t in a good place.  Because everything is sugar coated. You see the best of everyone’s lives.  

Looking at everyone else’s seemingly perfect lives makes the ugly green headed monster of jealousy rear its’ head.  We want what all of those other people have.  

So once again, is it real?

In my completely un-scientific opinion, maybe 50% is accurate.  But, which 50%?  

Are people completely, all out lying?  Are they merely glossing over things? Are they sugar coating life for their own benefit?  

Yes, yes and yes.  

Maybe it’s just one of the three.  Maybe it’s all three.  

I honestly couldn’t tell you, because, I’m not them.  

Now, let me ask you the real question.

Is that wrong?

Ultimately, the answer to that question lies in the person’s intent.  If they’re intentionally lying about something to hurt others, yes that’s wrong.  If they’re sugar coating something because they’re trying to make themselves feel better about a situation that isn’t all that sweet, yet isn’t doing any harm, maybe that’s ok.  Maybe they’re trying to remind themselves about all of the good things that are in their life. Not to gloat. Not to rub it in your face. Maybe they’re just trying to remember and focus on the good things that they have.  

Honestly, I have no idea.  I could be wrong about it all.

Maybe I’m just trying to see the good in other people.  

If you recall, earlier, I told you that I asked myself the “is it real” question.

Right now.  Right this very second, I know that God is working on something.  I’m starting to see things happening.  

And in my own brain, I see how things could be working out.

But is that really God’s plan?  

So while I totally understand that things aren’t always as they seem, what we perceive to be reality, really isn’t reality at all, I’m taking a step back.  I’m praying. And I’m giving it all over to God.  

Because right now, I have no idea….

Humble Confidence

I don’t want to brag, but…

I am smart.

I am beautiful.

I am thoughtful.

I am hard-working.

I am stubborn.

I am sarcastic.

I am funny.

I am tough.

I am strong.

I am…a million different things.

Just because I am all of these things, doesn’t mean that you aren’t, too.

The dangerous trend, that honestly has probably been around since nearly the dawn of time, is that to have self-confidence, one must also put others down, to highlight just how awesome we are.  You can’t be nearly as awesome as me, because you suck, and I smell like roses.

And, oh, how many times in my life have I fallen victim to this???

How many times do I still fall victim to this???

Insecurity.  Insecurity in ourselves, in how the world perceives us, in who we are.  Insecurity causes so many challenges.  Some people, like me, respond to this by shutting down.  I start to believe all of those negative comments that people make, because I believe in how they are talking to me, talking about me.  I believe them.  And I shut down.

The other response is to be one of those people who put others down.  There are varying degrees of this.  Sometimes this can come across as a very polite comment, but the truth of what is said is a criticism.  Other times it is very blatant, rude and meant to hurt.  And still other times, an insecure narcissist can be outright damaging, both physically and emotionally, to other people.

  • “You might as well just go to the nursing home and marry an 80 year old man, because no one else will ever want to marry you.”
  • “Why would you wear that?”
  • “That’s hysterical that you think you can write a book.”
  • “You just don’t know what you’re talking about.”
  • “You’re stupid.”
  • “You’re ugly.”
  • “You’re fat.”
  • “You smile too much.”
  • “What do you have to be so happy about?”

All of these things have been said to me, and then some!  And when I heard them, they hurt.  And I started to believe them…

 

One of my own personal struggles is that I don’t know how to walk the very fine line of between being humble and egotistical, confident and coward.  It is a very fine line.  And I tend to fall on the negative side of the line.

Even still today.

I know, and honestly do believe all of the qualities that I listed above.  I believe all of them with my whole heart.

But the tendency to believe that negative inner monologue still afflicts me.

And oh how many times have I stopped myself from doing something because someone else made me feel inferior.  Sometimes, it’s the actions of other people directly putting me down.  Sometimes, I see how amazing other people are, and think that there isn’t possibly a way I could do that, so why should I even try?

Even if I don’t always realize it, even if I don’t always see it, I know, deep down (sometimes way, way, way deep down) that my life has a purpose.  That even if other people can do awesome and amazing things, so can I!

So instead of tearing each other down, let’s just stop.  Stop it all.  Stop the negative talk.  Stop the criticism.  Stop the judgement.  Stop believing that we are horrible people.

Yes, it is easy to compare ourselves to everyone else.

But just because I’m awesome, doesn’t mean that you aren’t awesome, too!

Awesomeness isn’t mutually exclusive.  There isn’t just one awesome award that gets handed out in life.

Ope, I won the Awesome Award this week, sorry ’boutcha!

Life doesn’t work like that!

So join me in being a cheerleader for life.

Build each other up.

Compliment instead of criticize.

We just might change the world.

 

I Am Positive…

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I survived.  

Barely.

But I survived.

There were definitely tears.  

But I survived.

Sometimes, people suck.  I honestly don’t believe it is intentional.  But just the reality of life. People suck.  

Let me give you an example:

Last night was youth group.  And one of the other leaders and I had previously agreed that we would swap birthday nights to bring snacks.  She brings snacks on my birthday, I bring snacks on her birthday. Yesterday morning at 6am, I get a text, asking what kind of snacks I like.  And any type of sweets that my high maintenance digestive system could handle was out. Ok, that isn’t exactly what was said.  But that was the gist.  So I do give options.  

But then, she brought birthday cake.

And made an announcement that there was birthday cake.

That I couldn’t eat.

She announced that.

No birthday cake for me.

Maybe (definitely) I was already in a slightly emotional state of mind.  Because I just hate this day so much. And as my dad sympathetically told me last night, it always will.  Because nothing about my birthday being difficult will go away. Because the root cause just can’t be changed.

So I was already in an emotional state of mind.  

And then I don’t get birthday cake. 

And I have to watch everyone else eating birthday cake.  

Yes, there was chips and salsa.  Very delicious chips and salsa.  

But it isn’t birthday cake.

If your digestive system isn’t high maintenance, you probably don’t understand.  This is torture. Absolute torture. This isn’t the “oh, I’m on a diet and I shouldn’t eat that.”  This is the “my digestive system is going to try to kill me if I try to eat that” kind of a thing.  

Tor.  Ture.

Beyond that, I have a lot of friends and family with small kids, where life just gets in the way sometimes.  I get it. So sometimes it’s difficult to remember birthdays and other important dates. I get it.  

I really do.

Most of the time, I try to make sure important dates and things get recognized.  I’m a cheerleader for life for everyone. I try to send birthday cards to people close to me.  An actual through the mail paper birthday card. I want to see other people succeed. I want good things to happen to other people.  I’m genuinely happy for everyone else when these amazing things happen to them.

But over the past 24 hours, I had a pity party.  A selfish, downtrodden, pity party. I’m even going to be selfish enough to say that it was warranted.  

Because life gets in the way and people suck sometimes.

Do I think that any of this was intentional?  Absolutely not. My friend honestly was trying to do something for me when she asked what kind of snacks I like.  Not thinking about how I might take it without getting to have cake. And within this same group of friends, another friend keeps telling me that we need to have a night where they all have to eat a “Johanna friendly” meal.  So there is understanding there. It just went a little sideways for a bit. 

And do I think my friends and family purposely didn’t wish me a happy birthday?  

No. 

I don’t.

So I understand that it wasn’t a personal attack.

But the pity party still happened anyway.

I started to question why I do some of the things that I do.  Why I’m always the smiling, friendly, outgoing, happy person that I am.  Why I’m the life cheerleader. Why I go out of my way to do the things that I do.

Is it even worth it?

Not that I do the things that I do in hopes that people will return the favor.  That isn’t why I do these things.

But, sometimes it would be nice.

I honestly started wondering who would even notice is I stopped doing the things that I do.

And then God chuckled, and answered my question.

A coworker, and one that I’m not extraordinarily close to, emailed me this morning, and apologized for not realizing that it was my birthday.  And then thanked me for always sharing my smile with her.  

Ok, God.  I get it.  

I don’t want to give you the impression that I had ever intended on not doing those things.  I might whine and complain about it a little.  But that’s all.

In one belated birthday wish this morning, a friend told me that he hopes today is the start of my best year yet.  My friends, I cannot tell you how much I hope and pray that is the truth.