There are so many aspects of our youth that seem silly in retrospect: the pain of unrequited crushes, the worry over future responsibilities, and the seemingly constant contest of popularity.
And yet, we carry so much of it into adulthood without even realizing it.
If there’s one thing I’ve had to remind myself of as an adult, over and over (and over) again, it’s that the popularity contest is over. I didn’t win and neither did you, and none of us was ever going to really—not after walking across the stage at graduation.
Because the truth of it is you’re not for everyone. Neither am I. And neither was the most popular girl in your 12th grade class. And that’s ok.
We couldn’t possibly be for everyone—not without letting go of ever larger pieces of who we truly are, at least—nor do we need to be.
Of course, I can say that. I can write it. I can know it to be true, even if I sometimes struggle to believe it. There are the moments when the pressure to be everything to everyone is overwhelming . . . and I just want to be liked. To fit in. To people please.
If you feel the same way—trust me, I get it. I do.
But I find that when I’m present; when I’m focused on being exactly who I am, and only pushing myself to show up better for those roles where I want to show up better (as a mother, as a wife, as an entrepreneur, as a lover of God), the pressure falls away. The popularity contest ends.
And somehow, I still end up a winner.
All I can do—and all you can do—is show up exactly as you are. It sounds so simple, but it’s easier said than done, I know. It requires quieting the external noise—all of the suggestions and demands and picture-perfect lives of other people that we so often compare ourselves to—seeing ourselves for who we truly are, and showing up just like that.
Many of us try to be who everybody else wants us to be, but the problem is that we’ll never succeed at this—we’ll constantly be chasing a carrot that we can’t catch, which just sounds really exhausting, don’t you think?
(I’m tired just thinking about it.)
And even after all that, after all of the effort, there will still be people who don’t like us; who don’t like what we do, or how we talk, or what we look like.
But that’s ok. It has to be.
Because even if I’m not for everyone, I am for God. And I am for my beloved family. And I am for my cherished friends. And I am for myself.
When I show up exactly as Whitney—in all of my glorious beauty and imperfection—I am who I am, and I am for the people who matter most to me.
Why would I run myself ragged trying to be anything else for anyone else? Why would you?
You’re not for everyone, and that’s ok. It’s more than ok! It’s absolutely perfect if you’re authentic to who you are, and allowing the people you are for to see and love you wholly.
High school is over (for most of us, at least), and so is the popularity contest. I promise you, friend, you’ve already won.
How do you best show up as yourself?
What do the people who are for you love most about you?
Get your brag on in the comments below!