The Struggle to Be Myself

I have begun pressing into this idea that I am enough, exactly the way I am.

It seems like almost from birth, we’re surrounded by so much pressure to be something different than what we were created to be—to look and act in certain ways, successfully constructing a mask to cover our true selves. Social media, of course, is the perfect stage for presenting our idealized existence to the world.

Given the demands of society—seen in the subtle or outright rejection of those who don’t fit the conventional mold—it takes courage to strive for personal authenticity. But I’ve found that if I live my life based solely on what others expect of me, I never actually feel complete or satisfied with myself.

The Journey to Knowing Myself. Getting closer to who I really am sounds like it should be simple, but it actually takes a significant amount of time and effort. There are so many distractions that can get in the way. For me, this would be things like trying to make my body the perfect size (to the extent that I have struggled with a full-blown eating disorder), chasing after others’ approval, working too hard and taking on too much, pushing to control situations or people…the list goes on.

Plus, my emotions don’t come packaged in neat, tidy bundles. They slosh about, change quickly, and sometimes even directly contradict one another. It can be confusing and hard to get clear on what I’m feeling when there’s so much going on. One thing I’ve discovered is that if there’s a decision to make amidst this kind of messiness in my head, it’s better to put it off until I’m more centered.  

It seems like all the promising yet ultimately dead-end roads, along with difficulty sorting out feelings, have cheated me out of years I might have spent being my true self. But then I consider whether everyone has experiences like this, and wonder if maybe it’s all just part of growing up.

Regardless of my winding path, I know I’ve always done the best I could with what I knew at the time. So instead of blaming myself for taking time to learn, I feel grateful for the willingness to keep moving forward. Will I ever “arrive”? Even now, I continue finding out more about myself and my role is in this beautiful, chaotic world. I get clues in bits and pieces—like the therapist who once told me to say to myself, “I am not just a purging anorexic. I am also a beautiful daughter of God.” That has stuck with me for years.

Where I Go for Answers. To put all this another way, I think we often lose sight of who we are because we’re too busy running after who we think we should be. The missing element here is God, who has always known who we are and offers constant guidance to help us discover that as well. When I think of how I am unconditionally loved and valued by my Creator, it becomes easier to look at myself with more grace and compassion, and give myself room to explore, take chances, succeed, fail, learn and become wholly me.

demands of society eating disorder emotions God growing up knowing myself personal authenticity true self

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