A couple years ago, mostly before I underwent my emotional crap ('scuse my language), I attended a Christmas party with a group of friends. Honestly, I didn't know most of the people there. But that didn't matter. From the moment I walked in, I was confident. I laughed, giggled, and even screamed, as the moment required. I hadn't labored over what I was going to wear - I'd simply chosen an outfit in a matter of minutes. If even that long. I knew who I was as a person, and I wasn't going to let go of that.
At the party, I remember sitting down at a table with a group of girls. Most of them, I hadn't ever talked to before. But immediately, I felt at home. I had everyone laughing constantly. I downed three slices of pizza, without apology. Hyper and happy, the party progressed perfectly. By the end of the night, I'd made a lot of new friends. And the truth was...I honestly believed they liked me. As I left, I gave everyone a hug.
Let's jump ahead to the next year. The same group of girls was invited to the same Christmas party. But this year was different. Within 365 days, I had changed completely.
I spent ages, agonizing over what I was going to wear. I spent an obscene amount of time and hairspray to make sure that my hair was just so (though I was still dissatisfied with the outcome). I got to the party.
And immediately wanted to run back out.
The entire evening, I was silent. I only spoke when spoken to. I ate very little, because I was so nervous. I hardly laughed. When we played various games, I almost cried, because I was so terrified of losing. At that point, losing a game = failing. And failing = imperfection. Anyways. I almost didn't even color a picture with the rest of the girls, because I was so insecure in my artistic abilities. When it was time to go home, I was relieved, because I was so trapped in the "nobody likes me" mindset.
There's an example of what I mean. I used to be totally different. Crazy how twelve months can so completely change a personality!
AND I WANT THE REAL ME BACK! Where on earth did I go?!?!?! Who stole me? Have I done this to myself?
Lately, though, as I pursue freedom, I have been finding snippets of myself, hidden among the ashes. A couple nights ago, I laughed a true laugh for the first time in months. I danced, something I've rarely done since the move. And as I wrote this, I listened to one of the songs that I usually don't let myself listen to.
If you're like me - if you've somehow lost yourself over the years and are trying to get yourself back - I want to declare a toast. Come on, raise that pretend goblet and clink it against mine.
Here's to those happy childhood days. Here's to becoming who God made us to be. Here's to finding ourselves.