EMBRACING MYSELF

If I were being honest, I would tell you that up until recently, I never saw myself as the creative type. I was a first generation college student so that came with high hopes and expectations from others and myself. The entire time I was in college, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. In fact, I changed my major 7 times that I can remember. I knew I wanted to make a difference, be successful, make a decent living, and make my family proud, but I had no idea how to do that. I finally settled on a general business degree because I figured it would give me a variety of opportunities once I graduated. It wasn’t too specialized, it was practical and needed in society, and it would provide a high paying corporate job that would give me a comfortable life. 

The problem is – I didn’t know myself. Or maybe, I had a hint of who I really was, but because my real self wasn’t exactly “practical” I didn’t let that out. I had allowed my idea of success and a “good life” to be shaped by societal norms, not by the unique gifts God has given me. 

Now don’t misunderstand me, I am incredibly grateful for my education and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. But here’s the thing – after a year and half of searching for my “dream job,” I came to this conclusion: I need to discover and embrace who I am or happiness will not be a reality in my life. The route I’ve taken since graduating from college is a little unconventional and definitely doesn’t sit well with some, but it has been necessary. 

I can remember interviewing at banks and corporations and even making it to the final round with a huge international corporation, but I knew I would be miserable in these positions so I either turned them down or would fess up in the interview that I wasn’t the right candidate for the job. I was at a loss. I didn’t know who I was or what I was created to do. It was a tough place to be in. 

This struggle led to other struggles as I began questioning everything about myself - what I believed, what I was good at, what I was passionate about, etc. Over the last 5 years, I have proved that I can take care of myself if needed, I’ve tried several career paths and decided they weren’t for me, but through the testing and the trials, I’ve discovered who I am. 

First and foremost, I am a child of God. This is my identity. Everything I am or will ever become stems from this root. I am an advocate. I care about human flourishing. My heart is deeply intertwined with injustice. I want to restore dignity and identity to the orphans and oppressed. As a result, I care about creation. What’s good for creation and what’s good for people almost always go hand in hand. And lastly, I am a creative. This is a new one for me. I’ve only embraced it over the last year or so, but it’s true. I’m a visionary. I like to create, to make things better. I’m idea-oriented, but not so good at execution. I love to dream, inspire, and empower others. This creative side of me has always been there, but was squelched by societal norms and expectations for far too long. 

So while this path is undefined, more risky, and not always taken seriously by others, it’s also incredibly freeing. One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in my short life is to not let the words or expectations of others control me. I’m being true to myself and embracing the way God designed me when I actively step into and participate in creative acts. As Edward McMann stated, “When we engage life as a creative act we are most like God- when we choose to create that which is good and beautiful and true.” 

My least favorite question has to be: what do you do? I always laugh and stumble for words and never know quite what to say. But, from now on, I think I’ll say this: I do the things my heart deeply cares about. I don’t need a job title. I don’t need an impressive resume. My heart is wholly devoted to God and the things He cares about and that brings more satisfaction than a high-paying corporate job could ever bring to this INFP heart of mine. 

With all that being said, take it from someone who struggled for years, and embrace who you really are. For those of you who are unsatisfied with where you’re at in life, don’t let fear keep you from discovering, creating, or envisioning a life that’s rich in satisfaction and makes sense to you. It’s okay to go against the grain, even though it’s incredibly tough at times. Even if no one else gets it, keep pursuing the things that bring life to your soul. You won’t regret it.