When I was six, I had a huge crush on this kid from my youth group. It was the only frequent social event of my young life, so naturally, those few hours every Tuesday night were a big deal. I remember wearing these super cool new shoes I got, hoping he would think they were awesome, too. It was during a time my family calls “the pink and brown stage”, where everything I owned and wore was either pink, brown, or pink and brown together. Coolest time of my life.

Anyway, he didn’t notice my shoes. But at the end of the night, out in the parking lot, I decided I wanted to hug him goodbye like a lot of the other kids were(since he was the popular, cool one). Awkward as I was, I went for a side hug(never again) while he went for a full hug, leaving him with an arm wrapped awkwardly around both my shoulders. He then called it “Our special hug”, and had us do it one more time, much to my surprise and complete delight. 

I credit that night to be the night I embraced my truly awkward nature, and I’ve stuck with it to this day. 

So growing up, I knew I was the odd one out in my family and friend circles, and I was okay with it. It never occurred to me to have an issue with myself, because I was so used to being the awkward one that I just went with it. Once I realized some people thought it was funny, even, I latched on and started self-labeling myself as being awkward. 

High school didn’t strike me with an appearance identity crisis like it does a good number of people. I was awkward for sure, but I had learned not to care, mostly. The real crisis struck when I discovered how bad I was at most high school subjects, and how I couldn’t talk my way out of it. Even so, I suffered through with much difficulty, and a lot of crying into my math book. In the world of homeschool over-achievers who started college freshman year of high school, and who actually enjoy calculus, I didn’t fit in. 

Everyone called me the funny or cute little one, and called my siblings the smart, gifted, or talented ones. Everyone would say “We’re all gifted in different things!”, but man, I wanted their gifts more than I wanted mine. In a world where being awkward and making people laugh doesn’t sound as good as getting great grades and graduating with honors, I never felt like I could measure up. I hated the idea that everyone fit into one big, smart box, while I was left on the outside in some type of weird bubble thing.

So the true identity crisis started last year, and fully developed in the past few months. It started when everyone began asking where I was going to college, and what I was doing once I graduated. I immediately got this sinking feeling in my stomach and had to explain over and over that I wasn’t going to college. I had real, legitimate reasons why, but they never seemed good enough when I said them. It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t disappointing others as much as I was disappointing myself, and that was why my answers didn’t seem to measure up. 

The fact of the matter is, I’m not good at school. There’s this big lean towards excellence, but not that much towards admitting weakness. I can admit that I’m bad at most math and science, and the only part of high school I enjoyed was writing an occasional essay(very weird). But more than proving to everyone else how okay I was about not going to college like most other people my age, I was becoming very concerned with proving to myself that I was fine with that decision. 

So people would ask, I would give my answers and defend my reasons why(when they probably didn’t care that much anyway), and I would leave feeling inadequate and judged, even though those were mainly projections I was putting on myself. I feel like people treat me like a kid, so I try to act older and more independent, which just shows how young I am. It’s a vicious cycle. 

I don’t really have any huge take-aways, except that I’m very bad at planning my future and faking confidence on my own. I told myself for a while that I didn’t have identity issues, and it turns out I’m human, and I have them just like everyone else. I’m seeing the importance of being honest and not trying to handle everything on my own, and how acting like I know everything about myself and my life leaves me with an attitude of pride and entitlement. 

I mean, the fact that Jesus literally knew everything in the world and still stopped to listen to those around him should give me some example of how I should be listening more. My insecurities might have gone unnoticed if I hadn’t talked about them so much. The “I’m not smart enough” insecurity comes out a lot when I feel like I need to defend myself about not going to school full-time. The comparison insecurity comes out when I match myself up against others and talk about how they’re more gifted or talented than I am. It’s neat that everyone has different giftings, and that accepting my own is a huge part of not caring that I don’t fit into a particular box with everyone else. 

So that’s it. No huge life plans or college announcements. I’m still not going to Harvard(much to the disappointment of some people who may or not read this).

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