Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Healthy 2015: Freedom

Sometimes it feels like everyone I know describes themselves as self-confident. It can be a little daunting. I mean, I believe in who I am, I like who I am, and I wouldn't want to be anything else besides a better version of me (pretend that made sense). Stick me with new people and I handle myself just fine. I stick up for myself when people want to argue. I have no problems singing my own praises when I write my resume. So, sure, I am self-confident.

But then someone says something negative to me, and it hurts. That doesn't feel like self-confidence.

Yes, I believe in myself. But having self-confidence does not deter me from being a people-pleaser, too. I can, in fact, like who I am and also feel hurt when other people don't like me. I can believe in my opinions and want to defend them, but still want to placate those who disagree with me.

This is my insecurity. When people are unhappy, I try to make them happy. When people are mad, I think it's my fault. I have this deep need for those around me to be content, a dependence on their emotional wellbeing.

I never knew how insecure I was until I got married. Any time Nic got upset at something, I felt this niggling fear that I might have caused it in some way, though I knew, in my head, that I hadn't. I searched for ways to make him happy--oh please, just snap out of your bad mood!

Which of course was very unhealthy for both of us. I needed to not feel guilty and terrible any time he was upset. He needed the space to feel upset about things without having to comfort a distraught spouse. I was essentially encouraging him to hide his emotions from me, and I didn't want that.

I am a very stubborn person, and I used that to stand up to his bad moods. If he was upset about bad traffic, the grocery store being out of a food, or online customer service, I stubbornly refused to feel guilty for it. Over time, I realized I wasn't responsible for his irritations. I guess there's something to the idea of "fake it til you make it."

I read through Beth Moore's So Long, Insecurity and blogged my responses to it. That book taught me a lot about freedom and letting go of expectations for ourselves. So much of my guilt was over not being the person I thought I should be--even though I didn't want to be that person. I felt ashamed that I had become who I wanted to be, not who I thought everyone else needed me to be, and thus took any discomfort in others' lives on my shoulders as "my fault."

I have since learned to let go. I have learned that not only do I love myself, but God loves me this way too, and Nic, and my friends, and lots of other people. I have learned to ignore, in general, the people who think otherwise. I'm still learning.

I still struggle with insecurity, though. I've let go many of my internalized insecurities, but I still feel social pressures about appearing a certain way to the world. (Does anyone actually know who "the world" is composed of? Is it the same as the Them that is not a part of Us?)

Reading and living and praying and writing have taught me that Jesus is about freedom. I really want to live in freedom. The times when I do are wonderful. The times when I don't--when I'm weighed down by the all the fears about who I ought to be and what people think--suck. Living free is an ongoing lesson I will perhaps be learning the rest of my life.

I want to learn it better this year, just like last year was better than the year before that, and the year before that. I keep getting better about fighting my needless guilt. About being less insecure and less of a people-pleaser. I want that to continue. Here's to freedom in 2015.

Word count: 694.

*While typing the title of this post, I put 2014. *Sigh.* It has begun.