Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…

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I Am Enough.

For years I struggled with low self-esteem and with a persistent feeling of people rejecting or not liking me. Now, I know where my feelings of rejection came from–I remember vividly the day I was taken from my mother’s home, then placed in my Aunt’s home, only to end up in foster care. I remember thinking that I must have not been good enough, pretty enough, smart enough…just “anything” enough because no one seemed to want me. Then, I remember going from foster home to foster home, and ending up in a home where I never felt I belonged or was accepted. So, my insecurities years later were no surprise, as frustrating as they were. These insecurities and thoughts led me to not really have friends or close acquaintances throughout the years. I did not trust anyone; Nor did I think that anyone could really care about me. Besides, I did not want to open a door to possibly getting hurt. Even now, I think about the fact that I never had that “best friend” that many people around me have–that one you have known for 20 years and gone through many of life’s changes with–the one who knows ALL of your deepest, darkest secrets, and loves you just the same. Yeah, I missed out on that, and sometimes that hurts, but my childhood was just different from many others.

So rejection, fear, abandonment, low self-esteem, and this feeling of not being good enough constantly bombarded me through the years. At some point, I learned to open up enough to let people in, but even then, a small part of me would be looking for the slightest reason to run away. Then, when I finally had a few people who seemed to like me even a little, I began to cater to them, and I slowly lost me. I thought that if I was exactly what they wanted, if I never caused strife, if I did what they wanted, laughed when they laughed, thought like they thought, if I became their mirror image, then of course they would not walk away from me. Somewhere in those thoughts, I believed that I was not good enough to keep the right people around. So, I became a wallflower, always around, but hardly noticed–afraid to do anything that would make people walk away from me. I became a shadow of my shadow’s shadow, lost somewhere in the dark waters of unrealized potential and untapped dreams. For years, that was me. Then something changed for me. I got tired of being overlooked and of being someone else. The stress of trying to be liked, and people still walking away even for trivial reasons, and the realization of what is inside of me, caused a quantum leap into a new dimension.

I don’t remember the exact moment, but I know that one day I stopped caring about who liked me, who wanted to be around me, who was there one day and gone the next. I remembered that before the lost hopes and dreams, before the truncated childhood, and before the hurt had a chance to burrow into my heart, I used to believe…I believed that I could be whatever I wanted to be. I believed that I was lovable, beautiful, necessary. I believed that I did not have anything to prove to anyone but God. I remember years ago when I believed in me. I wanted that girl back, so I brought her back to stay. The reunion has been bittersweet and lonely, but it has been worth it.

Maybe you are now like I was, lost in the cacophony of noise brought on by trying to be everything else to everyone else, and maybe you are just now realizing that you lost yourself. Maybe you forgot that it is ok for you to speak up and express your opinions without fear of being discarded. Maybe you have gotten so far off track in trying to be “just right” for everyone else, that you don’t even know if you can get back to being who you are supposed to be. Maybe, just maybe, you have forgotten how to breathe and appreciate the amazing entity that is you. Maybe…but I have good news for you. As long as you’re alive, it is not too late. Now is the time to pull out every bit of power left in you–to stand up and no longer have to slink on the sidelines. This is the perfect time to rediscover who you are, and allow yourself to appreciate your quirky inconsistencies and even your insecurities, and even in that understand that it is those things which make you the priceless jewel that you are.

Life has a way of turning things upside down, but it also has a way of turning things right side up again, and sometimes that is up to us to do. Are you tired enough yet of being someone else? Then it is time for you to stand up and declare that, “I Am Enough”.


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Reclaiming Confidence

I recently acknowledged something about myself that I had previously refused to admit–somewhere along the road that I traveled daily I had lost my confidence. Looking at my life over the past year, I sought to pinpoint the exact moment in which my confidence had deserted me. Was it when people began to walk away? No, not then. Was it when I began to seclude myself from the crowd. No, not then. So when did my confidence fade away? I found that my confidence left when I lost faith and trust in myself. I had gotten to a point–due to past mistakes and situations–where I no longer believed in myself. I looked down on myself. No one had to put me down because I was the master of doing that to myself. I noticed that I was walking with my head down. I could not look anyone in the eyes because I was afraid that they would be able to read me and find me lacking. Things reached a climactic moment when I went to stand in front of people for a brief moment, and I almost had a panic attack. As I went back to my seat I was ashamed. How had I let things get away from me like that? Somewhere along the way I had surrendered to a self-degradation process. It all started with a mistake. Then came the self-incrimination. After that was the depression. With the depression came withdrawal. Then I became an actress–I smiled on the outside while cowering on the inside–though many could not see through the pasted on smile. It took me confronting all of the things that had brought me to that point for me to begin to resume even of resemblance of myself. Slowly, I began to trust in and have faith in myself again. I still had a hard time with some things, but everything was changing for the better. Then one day I looked up and realized that things were actually better and I was no longer acting when I smiled. When I chose to begin that process of confronting what had originally stripped me of my confidence, I began to walk in renewed confidence. I knew that I had hit the bottom, but I was ready to pull myself back to the top. Forgiven by God and others, I finally learned to forgive myself. In forgiving myself I learned again to trust myself, which allowed me to trust others. Then with confidence restored, I chose to keep moving forward. Too often we get stuck and we’re drowning, but it seems that no one realizes that we are on the brink of disaster. There are some instances when people may be there to help out, but it’s in those times when no one is around–or you can’t bring yourself to talk to anyone–that you have to decide for yourself to climb out of the hole or stay still and die in that place. Just because we have lost something does not mean that it can never be found again. We just need to put in the work to get it back. It is worth working for. What have you lost? Locate where you lost it and reclaim your possession.

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Yesterday I did something I never thought I’d do…and I actually enjoyed it. I was in a photo shoot! In preparation for what will be happening in my life in the upcoming months, I thought it appropriate to take some professional pictures. I went into the shoot thinking that it would be drudgery and I would be completely bored, but by the end of the shoot I felt like a real fashion model. It was amazing how confident and happy I felt by the end of the shoot–as if all eyes were on me. When I thought about it though, I realized that it should not have taken a photo shoot for me to feel confident and beautiful. It should not have taken the admiring glances of the photographer or the exclamations of awe from the makeup artist for me to feel confident in my body and who I am. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I am not confident, because in many ways I am, but my confidence needed a boost. I realized that before anyone else can adequately boost me up, I first have to be confident in myself. So often we neglect to encourage ourselves and really look at ourselves in the mirror, and when someone compliments we are surprised because we did not realize that about ourselves. Every so often we need to take a moment to tell ourselves how beautiful or handsome we are–not in arrogance–but in recognition of the gems that we are. We are worth it!