What do you do?
Where do you live?
Are you dating anyone?
Since graduating from college & moving on up into the “real world,” I’d be willing to bet that these are the Top 3 Most Frequently Asked Questions I have encountered. Anyone willing to back that up?
Here’s my question:
Why don’t we just ask, “Where do you fall on the scale of success compared to me?”
I mean, that would be a heck of a lot more efficient. And at the root, that’s truly what we’re asking – isn’t it?
If I’m being honest, I’ve grown to dread small talk social situations because of this exact reason. I know that I will be asked these 3 questions by at least 1 person, if not every person I chat with, & my answers just never seem to quite measure up to everyone else’s.
Social gatherings for 20-somethings (even in a church setting) are like a real-life version of Instagram: Everyone is only putting their perfectly put together life on display.
And this makes me sad. Not because I think we should constantly be vulnerable to the whole world, a characteristic we have conveniently coined ‘authentic.’ (In my opinion there is a time, place, & appropriate space to be completely vulnerable with specific people, but that’s for another post…) No, it makes me sad because despite my natural, shy tendencies, I really do enjoy meeting people & understanding what makes them who they are through their stories. I am awestruck by how God made each of us so significantly unique! But recently, this has been overshadowed by this constant feeling of “judgement” – like we are only listening to each other to find things to boost our own confidence with.
Since when do we define our entire identity by our job title, paycheck, address, & relationship status?
Well, I guess in reality a lot of people do. Always have, probably always will.
But where does that get us? Really. And at what point are those things enough? I mean, who is in charge of determining the notches on this scale of success, anyway? If there is no absolute highest point, then how can the value of the scale be determined?
Spoiler: It can’t.
My value & success cannot be determined by any other person. And more importantly, I have to stop whispering to myself that it can.
There are always going to be people who are ‘more’ than me. There are always going to people who want to make sure that I know that they have determined that they are ‘more’ than me. But I’ve got to stop feeling ashamed of my so-called shortcomings in comparison to others. 1) Because it’s not working wonders on my self-esteem, believe it or not.. but 2) And far more importantly, because it’s not honoring the plan God has for me.
I say I’m awestruck by God’s brilliance in creating each of us to be so unique, but then I get frustrated by the lack of similarity to others that I see in my own life. Makes sense, right? HA. The thing is, what I really desire is to be special, not set-apart.
Maybe one day I will be able to be completely confident & content in my identity. I won’t feel the need play up the parts of my life I think are awesome to distract from the parts that I’m insecure about. I hope so- I pray so. But I know I certainly won’t get there if I keep seeking validation by comparison.
We have to start truly believing that our identity is solely rooted in the only perfect One. Otherwise, we’re just stuck endlessly revising our Top 3 Questions.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 NLT