Editor's note: This article was originally published on Tammy Strait's blog, Grace Uncommon. It has been republished here with permission.
Have you ever wondered if you are who you think you are? Or worse, if you're trying to be someone you're not?
Lately, I can't help but wonder.
After a very difficult conversation with an agent, I'm beginning to wonder who I really am. I mean the woman behind all the masks and insecurities and all the ways in which I try to fit in. Where is the place I belong? Who is that girl?
It was like she took a magnifying glass and found every single one of my flaws. She saw through me.
And I wonder, who am I trying to be?
You see all my life I've been "pretty."
And many of you might say, oh poor thing. I get it.
But the truth is many of you have the same story. You might call it perfectionism, I call it pretty.
Maybe you were labeled as the pretty girl, the popular one, the cheerleader. Perhaps you were the book worm, the fat girl, the class clown. Or maybe you were the stoner, the loser or the dropout.
And I'm learning ever so slowly that when we see ourselves through others' eyes, we fall prey to believing so many lies.
Who we are. What we can do. What we're worthy of. Where we can go. Who we should become. All the wonders of possibility change when we identify with and believe what others say about us. What others say we are.
It's not a role I chose and I have fought with every single thing I have to prove myself more. To be given a chance. To be seen as smart. Capable. Brave and kind.
Because when we judge someone based on her packaging, we discount everything about her heart. We deny the part of us that is just like her.
Every single one of us is given an identity when we're growing up and there's good and bad sides to each one. And perhaps the reason it digs in so deeply is because there's truth in it too.
Pretty is a costume
Pretty is something we can put on with makeup, clothes, the right accessories and hair.
Deep inside where it matters, behind the costume, what's hidden there?
In every way beneath my flesh I have warred against pretty.
To me, pretty has been so badly tarnished that it screams of a masquerade life
It reminds me … of me
All the ways I try to resemble this identity I have been given. Everything must be pretty.
And it's not.
My life isn't pretty. My marriage isn't the model and my parenting has never been perfect. My family is broken and I honestly don't know if it will ever be OK.
You see, my little sister was labeled with the identity of an addict and she has fought with everything she had to live up to that too. Today she struggles for her life and I am trying to figure out how I can help her. If I can help her. A girl so far gone there seems no hope.
You see, you might think I have a "pretty" face but my life is far from pretty
And I've been trying my entire life to live up to an identity that I thought I had.
To be pretty and act pretty and exemplify pretty and it's a farce. It cannot be done.
We've got to stop.
We've got to stop comparing and competing and tearing each other down because of the things that make us afraid. The things that remind us of ourselves. Labeling each other with an identity that handicaps us for life.
We've got to stop believing what others told us about who we are and find freedom by taking one step at a time toward the person we desire to be. It's a long journey but we cannot hope to get there without taking the first small steps.
Pretty, popular, loser, loner, addict, rich girl, narcissist, liar. How do you label people? Who has labeled you?
Every single one of us has something that makes us beautiful. Every single one of us has something that makes us shine.
Who are you? What identity are you trying to live up to — and is it who you want to be?
Decide today that you are not who others say you are. Decide today to see yourself through God's eyes. Decide today to lose the label and design a life you love.