Seeing Yourself

I was sitting in church this Sunday and the pastor started to talk about “seeing” yourself (shameless plug: if you’re looking for an incredible church to join while you are enjoying your years at Emory, definitely check out Grace Midtown). I contemplated for a moment about what that even meant. I look at myself in the mirror, but I don’t think this is what he meant by that.

We are all seeing ourselves on a physical level, but is that who we really are? Are we limited by the external facade we were born with to define us? No. The simple answer is no. To “see” yourself, you must look past the flesh and into the soul. Sounds like some deep existential crap that in theory makes sense but never comes to fruition as practice. When I look in the mirror I can’t see that I have a passion for travel, a desire to pursue a career in public health, that I’m desperately seeking a relationship with God, that I secretly dream of opening my own coffee shop one day. No, you see that I have brown hair, love wearing ripped jeans, that it takes me a minute to get jokes, and that I’m not the most outgoing. We are judged on first impressions, whether we want to be or not. That is just how we operate as humans. We take in information and try to make sense of it based on our own experiences. We don’t take into consideration the whole picture, what lies beneath the surface. And because of this, we tend to only see ourselves in this one-sided light as well. We aim to perfect our outward appearance, knowing that this is what the world will be judging us on. We take the judgments of others to heart and become conscious of our every action. I had a friend tell other people that I was too ditsy, and from that point on I watched everything I said. I had a friend tell me that it’s weak to let others see you get emotional, so now I’m conscientious of showing too much emotion in public.

But those are just the judgments of a few, judgments of those who only take you at face value, people who don’t know the real you. And while it’s easy to get caught up in these opinions, we shouldn’t let them define us. I have never been the most confident, outgoing person, I constantly compare myself to others and am always wondering if I am good enough for someone else. But this is the completely wrong mindset to have. It’s not if you’re good enough for someone else, it’s whether you are good enough for yourself. Another point made in the sermon was that there are so many self-made, successful people; people who have started their own businesses and are thriving because they took a chance on themselves. They didn’t let the judgments of the world hinder their dreams and their belief in themselves, rather, they did so in spite of what other people were telling them that they couldn’t do. We all have our qualms, but what matters is whether or not we let them overtake us. Believe in yourself, bet on yourself, put value on yourself. Our years in college are some of the most transformative years of our lives. This is the time where we can explore who we are, mostly unhindered by the pressures of the world. So rather than letting those societal pressures and ideals tell you who you should be, defy them and define yourself in spite of them because you are good enough and its time to start believing it.