Who am I?
It’s a question that begs to be asked at the beginning of every new year.
For me, the simplest answer has been this. I strive to do my best, always. I prefer work over play. I notice and tend to every detail. My intuition’s stealth, my insight’s off the charts. I’m responsible, other-oriented, and in my heart, I want to do what’s right.
As I scanned through our CD of family photographs from this fall, trying to find the best picture of myself for the blog, Twitter, and Facebook, I realized something.
My best traits are also my worst traits. Isn’t that the case for most of us?
For five years in a row, we’ve had professional family photographs taken in the fall. The first three years, no problem! I orchestrated coordinating wardrobes for every member of the family without a hitch. You’d never know looking at the photographs, but the past two years, there have definitely been hitches.
You see, the past two years, I’ve been becoming more and more clear about who I am. But this who I am revelation has been colliding with who I was. And as odd as it seems, it hasn’t been easier to live out this new who I am, it’s been harder.
That’s exactly what I realized as I looked through those pictures and couldn’t find a single one I felt completely represented who I am.
Because part of me is still desperately trying to be the old Amy, the who I was. The who I was sort of works, you know? Well, for everyone else, it works. But for me? Not so much anymore.
Let me give you a real life example. I’m warning you in advance, I’m fully aware this is a first world problem, a superficial real-life example. But this example is the reason I’m writing this post in the first place. So here goes…
In the fall of 2012, I had a vision for our family photo shoot. I wanted it to be colorful, playful, casual. I wanted the photos to have a hispter feel, even though we’re totally NOT a hipster family. So I started with the kids. Their outfits were easy. Bright yellow for the baby, pink and green for the 2nd grader, blue plaid for the 4th grader.
Then I started searching for me. Not so easy. You see, I don’t wear much color. And the hipster look or anything close? Totally not me at all. I’ve tried. It just doesn’t work. But I thought I’d try again. This time, it would work. But it didn’t. I’m pretty sure I tried on clothes from every women’s store in the mall, searching for the perfect colorful, cool hipster outfit. Nothing worked, folks. Nothing worked. Between me and hubs, we declined everything I brought home. It just didn’t work. The look, the style just wasn’t me. (Let me just point out, in the meantime, hubs got his whole outfit lined up in no time flat.)
When I’d given up all hope, I reluctantly walked through the doors of my favorite store, White House Black Market. I’d never looked there once in all my searching, because of the obvious – it’s all black and white and totally NOT hipster. I was almost in tears when the clerk approached. I explained the situation and left with the first outfit I tried on. Neutral beige and white, but a whole-lotta style and bling on the ears and neck, totally Amy all around. I promised myself – next year I’m going to dress myself first and I’m heading straight for my favorite store.
As I prepared for our photo shoot in the fall of 2013, I started off on the right foot. I went straight to my favorite store. I was going to set the tone, and determined it was going to include beautiful hues of green and magenta White House Black Market was featuring in stores.
My good intentions went out the door fast. I came home sporting a solid green dress with sparkly green earrings and bracelet, which hubs very politely told me was probably one of the most boring, ugly things he’d ever seen me wear (ok, not his exact words, he wasn’t mean about it at all, but you get the idea.) Keep in mind, I’d already exhausted the store and picked my favorite for the pictures, but I went back a second time, this time returning with a long, luxurious off-white flyaway sweater and patterned green, white and black shirt underneath. Hubs was having a hard time understanding my vision. After desperately trying to coordinate three kids’ outfits to mine with no success, we determined my outfit had to go – again. So I returned it, realizing I was in for a long search – AGAIN. Long story short, I found a shirt from a store I frequented in my high school and college years – it was solid, neutral, with a bit of bling. Hubs indicated I needed a really big, bright pink necklace and big pink earrings. I politely declined the big pink necklace, made a trip to a hipster store, and opted for pink earrings and bracelet the clerk suggested before I’d barely looked myself.
So there I was. Neutral army green shirt with jeans I already owned, a bit of bling. Pretty. But safe. OK. were the words as I looked through the photographs of myself. NOT totally Amy. NOT exactly who I am.
Neutral army green – because it’s always easier to play it safe.
Jeans I already owned – because it’s always best to live predictably.
A bit of bling – because just right is always better than too much, not enough.
The revelation was clear in that moment.
I’m tired of playing it safe. I’m tired of being predictable. I’m tired of doing everything so-called “right.” I’m tired of trying to be any little bit or a whole lot of someone I’m not. I’m tired of feeling like I’m too much, not enough. And let me be clear, I don’t want a bigger than life kind of life.
I want a simpler, smaller, more focused life. I want to discover riches found only in the deep. I want to know in my heart that my life is completely authentic. I want to become more of who He created me to be. I want to be who I am.
So this month, whether I believe you’ll like it or not, whether focusing on myself is the Christian thing to do or not (yes, I’ve debated that exhaustively prior to publishing this post), I’m going to focus on me, what I need to do to become more of who I am. I’ll blog right through it, and hope my journey will spark something new inside of you.
Next month’s going to be a whole-lotta other-centered, and I can’t wait to share that journey with you. But for now, I need a moment to step back and focus on me. Just me.
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31