Okay, friends. Here’s an update: My update will be in two parts. You see, my most recent adventure had lot to do with the people I met and the places I visited, but it also had to do with finding myself. Please hold your eye-rolls. When I say, “finding myself,” I don’t mean I went out to explore and see what I’m really like. This new job, this “new” me isn’t the result of some quarter-life crisis.
No. If something has to be found, it simply means it was lost.
Over the years, I believe I lost parts of myself. It wasn’t a quick change or one-time decision; I lost myself little-by-little, trying to be the person everyone else needed or wanted. (My enneagram twoness in extreme action. Any of you other “givers/helpers” feel me on that?) The last few months, I wasn’t concerned with discovering something new; instead, I began to rediscover those pieces of myself that I’d lost in many acts of self-preservation.
Long story short, when I was a kid, I was bullied. Those experiences changed me in ways I’m still learning. What happens to us in our childhood marks us for life, for sure. I used to think it was me; something must have really been wrong with me.
But this was one of the best truths I learned: God does not make mistakes; people make choices.
Those of you who are Christians might be thinking “Well, duh!” But let me say something I think some of you may identify with. I totally, fully believed this on the surface. However, when I get right down to it, I realize I subconsciously failed to believe His perfect ways extended specifically to who I was. Instead of resting in who God made me to be—quirks and all—I fought to be what was expected.
The truth is, I’m “endearingly quirky,” as my friend Meghann describes me. So, in typical Steph fashion, I’ve listed the truths I’ve learned about myself on this little adventure of mine. (Side note: I’ve also learned that nothing about me is really that typical. I’m weird, and it’s delightful.)
Truth 1: I’m not perfect, and that’s okay.
Truth 2: Each person is responsible for his or her own actions, including myself. I can choose how I should respond, even when treated poorly. I’m not naïve or dense or slow in picking up on social cues, I’m just trying to live the way I believe God wants me to live. I want to love like He loves, which means I try to love and lead with kindness no matter what. (Truth 2.5: I don’t always succeed.)
Truth 3: I don’t always want to do what’s considered cool. I’m addicted to puns, I become teary when I see tiny cute animals, I sing and dance in public, and I often blurt my next thought without helping people by verbally connecting the dots.
Truth 4: I’m an overthinker and an over-explainer. My brain never shuts off. This means I over-apologize, and in an effort to make sure nothing I say is misconstrued or untruthful, I often dig some very deep metaphorical holes for myself.
Truth 5: I enjoy freedom. If given too many rules or demands, I become frustrated and am so very tempted to then do the opposite of said rules and demands.
Truth 6: I do believe I was made to help people, and I love doing that face-to-face. I enjoy making people feel seen, heard, and important. The hospitality industry is a good fit for me.
Truth 7: I can use the compassion God has gifted me along with my stubbornness (I’m not sure if that’s a gift—jury’s still out on this one) to love people well without allowing their reciprocated or unreciprocated love to define me.
Truth 8: I’m actually pretty good at speaking up when something is bothering me (or speaking up on others’ behalf). I’ve realized it’s kind to speak the truth, directly.
Truth 9: I’m an empath. While this means I feel deeply, it also means I can easily tune into others’ pain. So, my sensitivity can be a beautiful thing. I think it helps when people know they’re not walking alone.
Truth 10: I’m still an introvert, contrary to popular opinion. I love people, but I can’t love as well when I haven’t had time alone to recharge. There is beauty in solitude; taking time for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s healthy. If Jesus went off alone to pray when He got the chance, I feel like maybe it’s okay for me to do the same.
Truth 11: I may be a planner, but I actually crave surprises. It makes me feel incredibly loved when someone goes out of his or her way to gift me something or take me somewhere without me saying a word.
Truth 12: I just realized this could be a cheat sheet for any future dates or a spouse. Humans are complicated, and I don’t often like to talk about my own feelings outside of metaphors in poetry, so you’re welcome.
Look, friends, I’m not telling you all of these things just to talk about myself. Sure, I want to be known. But I also want to encourage you that it’s okay, healthy, good, wonderful, and freeing for you to be known and loved exactly as you are. I write this, I share my journey, because I hope some of this helps you along in yours.
I don’t believe God gives me experiences or gifts for me to stay silent or keep them to myself. Life can be lonely and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be, and I don’t think that’s what God intended. So, if you made it this far into my ramblings, please know this: You are loved. And while I certainly believe we should constantly be growing and developing personally, know that you are valuable just as you are right now.
And if you need me, you know where to find me.
(Oh. Truth 13: I actually prefer to go by Steph.)