For the longest time, I have entered social situations believing one little lie: I do not belong here.
I could be anywhere. A birthday party. A lunch gathering. A coffee date. A get-together – in my very own dorm room. Whether I am in a place that I've never been or right down my residence hall, whether I am with strangers or with some of my dearest friends, I tell myself that I am out of place. I tell myself that I am unwelcome, uninvited and undeserving. Oh, the lies that I tell myself.
Oh, the lies that we all tell ourselves.
If you are reading this article and are feeling the exact same way – you are not alone. There is an army of us out there, the socially anxious, the awkward, the questioning people in the corners of parties, on the edges of circles, all of who are convinced that we would be better off elsewhere. There are even some of us who are the centers of attention, the quickest talkers, the loudest laughers, who secretly believe that we are not wanted. We all desire to be wanted, valued and cherished. And we all believe ourselves not to be. No matter who you are and what you are feeling, your emotions are incredibly valid. They are valid regardless of how often you feel like you are being a hindrance to others, or are scared that they'll be mad at you. There is nothing wrong with you or with the way that you are feeling. There is only something wrong if you believe that what you feel reflects how other people feel about you.
You see, the lies that we tell ourselves are just that – lies. They are thoughts that worm into your brain to manipulate you into believing something other than the incredible truth about who you are. You are so loved, cherished and treasured. You are beautiful, both inside and out. You are valued and worthy of people's attention and time. You bring something unique to the table, no matter where you go. You are special beyond measure. You may ask how I know your worth so unwaveringly when I have never even met you. The fact is, I know that the Creator of the Universe does not make mistakes. You are both fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and no lies can ever replace that irrevocable truth.
Just because we know the truth does not make it easy. Friends, this is a battle that we must fight every single day of our lives. When lies grapple their way into our brains and make us believe we are lesser, we must combat them with the truth that we are more than enough. When we find ourselves doubting our self-worth, we must remember how phenomenal we truly are. Because our world is so broken, the lies may never stop. But after remembering the truth about ourselves, the way we interact with them can.
We can trust that we are worthy of peoples' times.
We can hold firm that we are loved by others, even if we don't feel that way.
We can believe that our friends care enough about us to be honest if we are annoying them, but that we are not annoying them if they do not say anything.
We can walk confidently, knowing that we are welcomed, rather than excluded.
We can believe that we are wanted.
That we are worthy.
That we are enough.
Oh, the truth that we could tell ourselves.
My wish for you is for you to realize your true potential and to never let it go. To enter into any social situation with your head held high and with all those you love and hold dear cheering you on. To sit laughing among friends and family and to know deep in your soul that you belong. I know that I am not at that point yet. But, even though I have not won, I know that I am still fighting my battle, every day.
I know it is difficult to join me, to revoke the lies that you have told yourself again and again and again to the point that you see no other way to be. But I urge you, please. Step into the light. Step away from the lies that we tell ourselves.