I am me, and I don’t know anyone else that is me. So I guess in that sense I’m the one and only, but not in any kind of egotistical way.
— Elijah Wood, actor
Take a minute to think about the kids from high school. When I say jock, what image comes to mind? What about grunge, gothic, or nerdy? We all know that we choose our clothing to make a statement.
“Whether you want to accept it or not, you play a big part in the way other people respond to and treat you,” says Jay McGraw, author of Life Strategies for Teens. “It all has to do with your behavior, particularly the way you present yourself to the world through your appearance, attitude, actions, and the way you treat others.”
I started thinking about this as I was shopping the other day and I noticed all the Halloween costumes, even though Halloween is still a month away.
What we choose to wear, and how we present ourselves, also makes me think of Halloween costumes.
I remember my favorite. In the third grade I decided to be Barbie. My mom bought one of those boxed costumes that had a plastic face with holes for eyes and a mouth-slit to breathe through. (Hey, it was popular in the late 70s!) It also came with a shimmering pink “gown” that tied in back.
I thought I was beautiful . . . until my face started to sweat under the plastic. It was hard to see, not to mention breathe. I felt like I was suffocating.
After that Halloween, I never wore another plastic-mask costume. However, that didn’t stop me from trying to be something I wasn’t.
It’s easy to slip on a “mask.” To hide behind a smiling façade. But attempting to be something I’m not doesn’t feel good. Doesn’t look right. And it’s hard to breathe.
I’d like to say that as I grew older, I stopped hiding behind masks. But that wasn’t the case. As a high school cheerleader, I always felt like the odd one out. Most of the other girls were a size 0— and I was not. Needless to say, I was always the one on the bottom of the human pyramid!
I tried to make up for not being super-thin by wearing all the right clothes and dating a handsome guy. I strove to be popular, and I went to parties even though I really didn’t enjoy the atmosphere.
When I took time to think about my identity, I started asking myself questions. What do I feel comfortable wearing? Where should I focus my time and attention? How would I like to be identified as a person?
I also reconsidered my motives. Why did I go to parties or watch movies that I didn’t really care for? Why was I trying to be something I’m not?
Perhaps you can ask yourself the same questions. Taking time to evaluate your identity will help you fit life around who you are inside. Not the other way around.
When you treat yourself as a valuable person, others will catch on. You’re the one in control. It’s up to you to decide how you want to be seen and known—without pretending to be something you’re not.
(This blog was revised from my book: Life Interrupted. To read more about me and my writing, and the Christian writers I interview, also check out: www.triciagoyer.blogspot.com)