I had a very interesting conversation with an old friend this past weekend.
Most people who know me know that I have always had a confidence issue. If you don't know that, then ha! fooled you!
It used to be a lot worse than it is now. When I was in high school, I had absolutely zero self-esteem. I didn't find anything about my personality or my looks valuable whatsoever. As a result, I obviously didn't have very many friends. A lot of good acquaintances, sure, but friends? I often say that it takes a long time for me to warm up to people. I like a lot of people instantly, but I'm never convinced that they like me, and why would they want to spend their time talking to me if I'm not even that interesting?
For that reason, I was so nervous to go to college. I gained a little perspective when I went on Trek after my junior year, and I had a chance to see what happened when I started over completely with a brand new set of people, since we were organized into families with people that we weren't likely to know (which they did on purpose). I had to keep reminding myself of that as I sat nervously in the van on the way to Snow College.
I remember sitting at my apartment by myself after my parents had left, and my roomates that had moved in so far were at work, and I was trying to decide what I should do with my evening. It was a new experience to be at home without any other people--since there's 10 kids in my family. The apartment manager came to my apartment to check something and saw that I was alone and doing nothing. She told me that there were people outside talking on the lawn and suggested I go and meet them. I shook my head and said that I would have to meet them later. She said, "If you don't break out of your shell now, then when will you?"
Can't argue with that logic. So I went out that night, and I'm so glad I did. I remember meeting Adam, Jon, Liz, and I think there were other people there too, but hey that was almost 4 years ago.
From that day on, I made an effort to meet people and make friends. I think I made more friends that year than I've ever made in my life. One of those friends was the one (who we won't name) that I had this very interesting conversation with the other day.
Now, let's be honest, my roommate and I were boy crazy, and we knew a lot of boys, and I couldn't even tell you how many boys I held hands with that year. We were 18. No further explanation is needed there ha ha. The point of the matter is, though, that for the first time in my life, I felt accepted and that people liked me for who I was, for my standards, for my quirks, for me.
Since that time, a lot has happened, and a lot has changed. My view on a lot of things has changed, and I hope, I've gotten more mature.
So on Sunday, I went down to Ephraim, and I was feeling very reminiscent, like I always do when I'm down there, and I saw this certain friend, who went on a mission, and I haven't seen him for a couple years. We talked for a long time, and throughout the conversation, he kept being surprised. He said, "Angela, you're beautiful." Yeah, thanks. "I don't remember you being that pretty." Wow, ok. Then later, "Wow, you're intelligent. I don't remember you being this smart back then."
Oh boy. I said, "don't you remember that one time you cuddled with me?" he said, "yeah, because you were easy to get to cuddle."
Not to mention my favorite comment, "Is there something wrong with you since you're not married and you're 21?"
I guess I don't have to say that he wasn't very tactful. But I started thinking...did everyone see me that way that year? Does everyone see me like that now? I don't think the beautiful comment bothered me nearly as much as the other ones. I do agree that I'm prettier now than I was back then. I try harder now, so if I didn't then that would be unfortunate. However, that's only skin-deep.
But not intelligent? I've always considered myself to be a deep thinker. In fact, I tend to overthink things. It's true I've learned a lot in the past few years, so I should be smarter, but it just made me wonder, because I feel like I gained a lot of strength from the way people reacted to me that year, and I suddenly wondered if what I had gained was based on false assumptions. And if that year, when I feel like I had the most friends, I was dumb, ugly, and easy then what am I now? It's a wonder if anybody likes me at all!
But then I had to recall a thought that occurred to me recently, which I think was inspired. It's an act of pride not to believe in yourself and your own good qualities. That almost seems like an oxymoron, but truly, God has given every single one of us talents and abilities, and He thinks all of us are beautiful and intelligent. Not only does He think so now, but He thought I was beautiful and intelligent when I was a freshman at Snow too, and even when I was in high school. And by disagreeing with His view, we're basically saying that we know better than God--the only Person who knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees us as we truly are and He sees our wonderful potential.
So while I still may struggle with my confidence, it's really a matter of faith that He knows me and He believes in me, and if the greatest Being in the universe, Who knows everything and everyone, sees me as someone of value, then who am I to disagree? I really am nothing without God, and He is where I need to draw my confidence.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with my faults and my shortcomings, and I want to hide from everyone so they won't think badly of me. But it's not everyone else's opinions that count, and I'm denying people love when they may need it and I'm denying myself love and I know I need it.
I'm writing this as part of my process of accepting this idea, and I know I haven't become totally accepting of it just yet. I mean, it makes sense, but my heart still hasn't totally embraced it because I am a prideful person. But I'm grateful that I almost had a breakdown this week from that experience, because it helped push me toward accepting this truth.
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalms 27:1