In Mended, I described a time of my life that I called my unveiling. I was 20 years old and had a deep regret that I wasn't able to get over easily. It took years for me to accept what I had done and move toward healing, but something happened immediately after that mistake. An unveiling. I felt for all of my life I had put a veil over my face, never exposing the true parts of myself to anyone. I don't think that I have ever been "fake", but I was always afraid to go against the grain. I was in college and everyone was living their best life, partying with friends. I enjoyed that too, but my deepest desires were to settle down and live with my boyfriend. After that mistake, I unveiled that part of myself to not only everyone around me, but to myself. I wish I could have done it a few months earlier, but I am at peace that at that time, I was able to do it at all. I finally allowed myself to live the life that I desired, regardless if anyone else understood. It was freeing to me and the years that followed were some of the happiest years of my life. Even though I finally lived the way that was best for me, I never really dropped the constant desire to have people like me. It lessened over time, but I was still what I would call a people pleaser. I would avoid confrontations, always apologize first, and bend what I wanted to make other people happy.
I have seen many meme's about not caring what people think about you when you reach your thirties. While it didn't happen as quickly as these memes made it out to be, the past 3 years of my life I have gone through another transition into living my life authentically, whether or not people like it, like me, or agree with my choices. I call this The Univeling 2.0. I was hoping I would wake up on my 30th birthday and be magically cured of caring what other people thought, but unfourtunately it didn't happen that way. It happened slowly, and methodically (not on my end, but I believe in God's way). I had my fourth child right before my 30th birthday, so I was still living in my postpartum bubble on my birthday. And I realized I liked it that way. Saying no to events had slowly gotten easier to say. (first step of Unveiling 2.0) Then, I started caring more about my goals and passions. No one else would understand why I suddenly wanted to run a half-marathon or write a tell-all book about my life, but I knew that I had to and that I was called to do so. I knew I had to do it for myself and no one else. There were people that didn't understand and people that weren't supportive, but it didn't stop me. (second step) Then, my husband stopped drinking and we stopped being present around people that he would be uneasy around. My priority was to be there for him, even if it meant stepping slightly back from some of our good friends. (third step) And lastly, it was losing a friendship that I thought would stand the test of time. Of course, I didn't see God's bigger plan in this at the time because I was truly devastated. I kept thinking that maybe if I changed or apologized enough, we would be friends again. Thankfully, she didn't give me that chance. So instead of changing for someone else, I had to learn to be confident in myself. (fouth step)
I have laid awake at night more times than I would ever like to admit worrying if people liked me. Hundreds of times at least. It started as a child. Growing up with an addict, I was always getting the feel for the room as soon as I entered it. And when things felt rocky or dangerous, I had to fix it to be safe. Over time, it developed into trying to please everyone to avoid "danger". Of course, confrontation isn't dangerous now, but it still brought back that deep-rooted feeling of danger that I used to have and I did everything I could to avoid it. It became people-pleasing. It feels good when people like me. Having people like me meant to me that I was "good". Having someone blantenly not like me anymore, especially someone that knew me really well was a crushing blow. I spent so many nights wondering how I had failed in this friendship. Then I spent many nights angry at her, because I thought she was the one that failed the friendship. Until one day, I just stopped thinking about either one of those. I didn't need answers anymore, didn't feel the need to take blame, or to blame. I had my own closure- The final unvieling. (Although I am sure that I have more work to do... and when I figure that out, that will be the Unveiling 3.0.) Being confident in yourself isn't easy. In fact, it was one of the hardest things I have had to learn. For me, it means that I believe in myself even if no one else does. I believe I can accomplish my dreams, when I don't have a cheerleading team behind me. It means I still like myself and think I am a good person, even when someone else doesn't like me. It means I still live my life with sincerity and have true joy, even when someone else doesn't want what I have. It means I find worth in myself, even if someone else doesn't see that worth.
The thing is, for you, for me, for that friend I once had, for the stranger beside me at Starbucks.... it doesn't matter who likes us. Yes, we are humans and we all have that core desire of community that needs to be filled. When people don't like us, all that means is that they don't belong in our community. They belong in someone else's community and that is OKAY. Before my first "unvieling", I thought that being the same as everyone else is what made me likable. Then I changed and realized I could be my true self, and people would still like me. Before my second "unveiling", I thought that if you were your authentic self and a kind person, people would like you...despite all of our differences. Then I realized there will always be someone that doesn't like you. As kind, helpful, people-pleasing, loving you are.... you aren't everyone's cup of tea.
I have found my confidence in the amount of people that like me for a really long time... all of my life actually. When one person doesn't like me, it destroys my confidence. The past year, I have seen God's plan work in a way that only his plan could.... that I would be faced with rejection after rejection until I realized my own worth. It has been heartbreaking for me. I have rode the rollercoaster of hating myself and I had to make a decision that I would no longer get on that ride. I had to let go and find peace in every situtation that has made me question my worth. Last week I did yoga for the first time. During our stretches, our instructor said "what is that seed that is buried inside of you, ready to spring up and take bloom?". Immediately, my mind said CONFIDENCE. It has been a slow rising bloom, waiting for the right time to spring to life. It takes hard work to make that seed bloom, just like it does with any seed you plant. You have to water it and give it lots of sunlight. For me, I had to do the same. I had to silence my intruding thoughts of worthlessness with mantras of love. "I am lovable, I am worthy, I am a good person, my community may change, but I always have people in my circle." I also had to do things that I am fearful of. When I feel unloved and when I feel like I can't change that situation, I tend to shrink myself. I don't want to be seen or known by anyone for the fear of rejection from yet another person. I had to intentionally keep showing up for myself. I kept posting on social media and promoting my book and living my life, even though it scared me. It took time, but little by little, I found that it was easier to be myself. I even liked myself. Rejection didn't seem as scary, because I knew who I was, whether anyone else saw it.
Now, I am proud of who I am. I know that there are people who don't like me, and I know there are people that adore me. I know I make mistakes, and I know I own up. I know there are quirks about me that some people love and some people don't. But those quirks are mine... and I like me. If you are stuggling with your own confidence, put in the work to love yourself. I know it is hard and scary, but it is so worth it. I challenge you to repeat those mantras of love to yourselfl every time you feel like you don't love yourself. Remind yourself of your worth...because even if you don't see it for yourself, God put you on this earth for a reason, and in His eyes, you are worth it. When you feel like shrinking yourself, challenge yourself to stand out. It may feel cringy, but post that selfy on instagram. It isn't for the likes. It's for you- to put your face out there and show yourself that you have a place in this world. When you keep doing the hard thing, you keep letting your light shine, and your subconsious eventually catches on to that. Slowly, you start believing in yourself. Not all people are born with confidence, and some of us, we may have had confidence as a child, but it got pushed down by other people's thoughts. Don't bury it anymore. You are worth it. You are beautiful, brillant, and brave. Keep shining.