Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lost in Labels

Today's Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl Book Blog Update
As usual...I'm just mainly putting what Lysa has said in her book with some (very little--actually maybe not at all way more than usual today) of my own insight/thoughts.

I'm not sure when I first felt I wasn't good enough, but my earliest memory of it happened {remember my memory can sometimes be the pits} when I tried out for the High School Dance Squad for my sophomore year & didn't make it. You see, I wasn't the prettiest of girls, as hormones decided to come early in my life & the wonderful acne reared it's ugly head on my face around third grade. My teeth also decided they really didn't like touching each other (you know, like siblings who fight saying "He's touching me. Would you stop touching me"), so they were all jacked up & spaced out. This coupled with the awkward years of preteen & adolescences did not always do well for my self-esteem (boys don't really like girls who have acne all over their face).

But I could make some awesome facial expressions & over exaggerate my dance moves when needed. For those of you who aren't familiar with dance, this is important when you are just a tiny little speck on a football field or basketball court during a halftime performance. I was on the dance squad all through junior high & everyone had told me "If anyone is going to make it on the High School Squad, Tasha, it will be you!"

But as the names were called out, it felt that my life was over as I had not made the squad as everyone had predicted. It was just not meant to be. I was crushed. The false perception was rooted in this one flawed thought: You, Tasha, are not acceptable the way you are. And this sent me into an identity crisis as my mind swirled with possible solutions: Since you aren't acceptable, you must find some things upon which to hitch your identity. Since it is not possible for you to be "Tasha, the dancer," you must be something else. "Tasha, the smart girl." Or maybe "Tasha, the responsible girl." "Tasha, the rebel." "Tasha, the good friend." "Tasha, the dork." "Tasha, the class secretary." "Tasha, the volunteer." "Tasha, the loser."

Lost in this type of flood of thoughts, one would see these labels less & less like opportunities & more & more & more like prison cells. People label & categorize so they can define who fits where & with whom, but I had neither the spiritual depth nor the mental maturity to break free. So, trying to become more acceptable, more worthy, more lovable became my pattern, & worrying about what others thought of  me a consuming, often condemning way of doing life. Their opinions were my measuring stick by which to answer the question, "Who am I?"

Eventually the pizza face, jacked up toothed girl grew into a young woman. The acne calmed down. An oral surgery & braces fixed my teeth. I saw an Arkansas Razorback football game & spent more time watching the mascot than the game as I was fascinated. I tried out for High School Mascot for my junior year, and got it! Not only was I the mascot for my high school, but at cheer camp during the summer I got selected All-American Mascot & got to go perform during halftime of the Hula Bowl in Maui. Turns out over exaggerated dance moves & a little natural cumbsiness are awesome qualities for a mascot. Life was lining up as I dreamed it would.

Only I still didn't feel secure in who I was. The things I tried to do define my identity kept shifting. I was someone's girlfriend, but then we would break up. I was a good student, but then I'd make a bad grade. I was responsible, but then I would pull a stupid stunt & not be. Who I thought I was one day fell apart the next.

I was very fortunate to have an extremely supportive set of parents who offered wonderful words of encouragement & lifted me up when I would fall. [They are still awesome at this to this day.] I was also involved in my youth group at church (I had joined the church when I was in 7th grade the Sunday after a Fifth Quarter post-football game event). My youth director, his family, & my fellow youth group members also provided me with some great support. I started volunteering at the hospital 4 hours a week & held-down a part-time job that I loved. I also babysat for a hand full of families when they would go out & during the summers when the kids were out of school. Life was settling a bit.

Soon it was time to pack up & head for college. I said my good-byes to my friends & my parents & I loaded up & moved me to my new home away from home. I saw college as the chance to completely reinvent who I was. No one there would know of my acne, jacked up teeth, or that I wasn't good enough for dance. I would have beauty, popularity, success, freedom, & a plan for my future (to be a Pediatrician). Oh yes, & I had my religion.

Stay tuned for the next Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl Book Blog Update...

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