We all feel the need to prove ourselves worthy. I guess it’s a natural part of a human being’s makeup. We want to feel a part of something greater than ourselves. I don’t know where it starts. Preschool maybe? Even in preschool there is always one or two popular kids with an exclusive group of friends. In middle school, I desperately tried to fit in and when I didn’t AT ALL (I was taking operatic voice lessons for goodness sakes), I resulted to trying NOT to fit in as much as I could. I succeeded. The pictures still haunt me. Though I wanted to be “different”, so I thought, I really just wanted attention. It was then I also desperately tried to gain the attention of the popular boys; an ambition that would stick with me for years to come. Unfortunately I allowed myself to get into situations that I am so not proud of and would be willing to bet most of you have too. I snuck out; I lied to my parents, the whole drill. And I wasn’t exactly ashamed of it at the time. I dated a little and for a long time held a serious grudge against my past in general. After Jonathan and I started dating, I quickly knew that my ambition to attract a man was over. I had found the one I would marry. However, I had to deal, on an entirely new level, with his past too. His ex-girlfriends. Some that I knew. Some I didn’t realize that I knew and my quest to “prove myself” went into overdrive. I became jealous, overbearing, mean. I said awful things about people I never met and at one point seriously considered throwing a wine glass at a girl. I quickly decided against that due to the fact I had zero to back myself up if she were to come after me. She was a lot taller and was wearing some seriously tall Louboutins that just so happened to be spiked. The image of her on top of me beating me with her high heels wasn’t one I wanted to live out. So, I bit my lip and walked away clutching my Tory Burch bag to the point my knuckles were white determined to get back at her.
Even after we married, up until recently, I still felt like I needed to prove, to everyone, that I deserved Jon and that I “won” him fair and square. The good girl had come out on top after all. Slow and steady won the race. The awkward, smart totally weird middle schooler with a tragic perm had grown up and won the frat boy president from UT Knoxville. I beat out many other girls and I was no longer the girl in the background trying to fit in. Proving myself became all I cared about and leaked over into every aspect of my life. In pursuing a career, the same “prove yourself” thoughts began to creep in. After losing my baby, I also felt the need, even more so than before to prove to everyone that even though for some reason I couldn’t carry my child, that I was strong and pretty and still deserving of Jon. Even though inside I didn’t feel like it. Have you been there? If you were totally honest with yourself, can you picture a time or a set of circumstances that made you feel like you had something to prove? It’s exhausting after a while, isn’t it?
I don’t know what sparked it, but I started thinking about the past-my past-the other day. I thought about the guys I had a crush on, the girls that hurt my feelings, the words said that broke my heart. I thought about the damage caused by toxic relationships and friendships that were poisonous from the start. I thought about the times that I allowed myself to be abused for the sake of feelings worthy. I thought about the times that I did things I regret and would never, ever do again. I thought about what could have been and what if. I longed to go back and walk the halls of my high school and laugh with my friends because we were all clueless at the time. We’re all different now. We don’t talk outside of social media. When we see each other, we look down and quickly walk the other way. There is no interaction and if there is, it’s a quick “Hey, how are you?”. We do our best to prove to everyone around us that we are okay and we are totally capable of handling this thing called life outside of those groups of people and those cinderblock walls, and we are quite good at it. I can’t tell you how many times I have posted on social media to prove a point, make someone jealous or just out of spite to make myself seem “better” than I felt. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked Jon if he loves me the most. I can’t tell you how many times I have cringed at the thought of an ex moving on and not feeling like they have totally screwed up over losing me. I cannot tell you how many times I have uttered “I freaking hate her”. And the thing is, I don’t still have feelings for people in my past, I am actually relieved some of my friendships have severed and you couldn’t pay me enough to go back in time to my high school Hollister days. (God help me).
I am married to the man of my dreams. I get to come home to my favorite place in the world and be surrounded by the people I love most in the world. I have the sweetest pup; the most beautiful first pregnancy story; and the most loving family. Though I have desperately tried to be anything but me over the years, layer-by-layer God is exposing who I really am. And as painful as it is, it’s also freeing. I realized as I really thought about it the other day, I don’t have to prove one thing to anyone. Not one. I don’t know if it’s a sign of maturing, if it’s the fact I am tired of faking it, or the fact that grief has made me very transparent but here’s the thing: that’s not why any of us are here. We were not placed on this earth to be class president, homecoming queen, an Instagram star, a popular kid, the sexiest girl/guy alive. We weren’t put here to find fulfillment in proving that we are better than an ex-gilfriend, more popular than the basketball star, make more money than our peers. We weren’t put here for us. We were put here because the Lord thought the world needed one of us here to give HIM glory. We were put here to give Him glory with who we are deep down inside: our personalities, our struggles, our gifts, our awkwardness, our interests, our hearts. And the cool thing is…all of those times we completely screwed it up, acted ugly, fought the person he designed us to be: He still loved us through it. And He didn’t give up. And He won’t.
I have learned throughout the past year a lot about myself that I didn’t know. I learned that I want children more than I want anything in the whole world. I want to grow old with Jonathan and I want to love him like Christ loves the church. I want to give him a life full of love and adventure. I am actually quite content that I was an English major. I love American literature, find diagramming sentences calming and I have developed a deep love for E.B. White. I have an obsession with Dachshunds. I love the mountains. I am an introvert and I literally hate parties until I can warm up to those who attend. I really love Star Wars and I bought a Darth Vader t-shirt the other day. And I’m not ashamed of it. I’m easily intimidated and easily hurt. But I pretend to be brave. I speak my mind. I love to write.
Society and social media constantly remind us of what everyone else is doing and what everyone thinks. “Everyone is pregnant. Everyone is married. Everyone is in a relationship. She’s prettier than me. Who does he think he is? I cannot stand that. “
We can look up people from the past in an instant and dig up any dirt we need to make ourselves feel better in a matter of seconds. We fight invisible battles in our minds that we created ourselves trying so hard to feel like we matter more than those that surround us.
So where does it end?
When does it stop?
It’s not until we sit in front of the Lord, feed ourselves truth and allow ourselves to be broken enough to see that we don’t have to prove anything to anyone to matter on this earth. We were created in the image of God to be uniquely and exclusively His. It doesn’t matter your social status, relationship status, pregnancy status, and economic status. You don’t have anything to prove.
Rae Rucker says
Amazing Word Bethany – I absolutely still struggle with proving myself. To a fault. To the point where accepting help from others became a battle because “I can do it all AND all by myself.” It is the single HARDEST battle I face.. breaking that habit.
Thank you for your transparency! Helps a girl like me know I’m not (too) crazy in this loud, opinionated world.
Thank you for this sweet Rae! Love you! And thank you for taking the time to comment. When I post something, it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle still with what I write about. Writing just helps me process it and attack it a little easier. And it’s encouraging when friends like you say “Amen sister” because it makes me feel not so alone. Miss you terribly!
Judy Powell says
You are an amazing young lady. You are beautiful inside and out. You have a heart the size of Texas. God will use us no matter who we are or where we are. He is using you now. Keep up the inspirational writings there is a greater calling for you. I love you and appreciate you