Nobody likes you when you’re 23

“My stupid mouth has got me in trouble.. I’ve said too much again.” 

You know, John Mayer and I have more in common than I would like to admit.  And sadly enough, this song has become the anthem of my 23 years. Try as I may, the words always seem to spill out at the wrong time…to the wrong people…in the wrong place. And it’s not just my lack of filter that I have wrestled with. I always seem to find myself being  “too much” in any given situation. Basically, if my life was a game of Mario Kart.. one could rest assured that I would hit every single banana and turtle shell on the track. You know those kids who listen to their parents and avoid the big mistakes? Or those adults that learn from others’ errors, and take a different path? Well this is not a blog about one of those people. I have not gotten off scot free in any major milestone of my life. And when I really think about it, I will be thrilled,  shooting off fireworks even, on March 31st when I finally turn 24. Because 23 has sucked the worst.

I have been a spitfire since the day I was born. And as i frequently joke, you either love me or you hate me. There is no in-between with my personality. I can pretty much guarantee that when I walk into a room, you will know I am there. (Honestly, because you would have to be deaf to miss me..) Although this is a character trait that many times leads to laughs, it is deeply rooted in insecurity. Because one of my biggest fears is that I am just too much. Too loud, too emotional, too needy, too broken. Just too much. That fear has been illuminated as I enter the professional world. Coming into contact with so many people daily allows this self-doubt to fester. What do they think? Am I worth pursuing? Why? Because as a human, I want to be loved. Don’t we all? The underlying fear for many of us is just that: I’m too much, or I’m not enough. I have prayed the same prayer over and over for years: “God, please just help me keep my mouth shut. Help me to be less. To listen more, to talk less… and to think before I speak.”  At this point, I have resigned to just a sigh in place of this prayer. Thinking, the mercy must have run out by now. There is no way I can hit the same wall this many times, and still receive another chance to turn around. As my mom always says, “Nothing will change until the pain of staying the same is worse that that of moving.” Smart woman. I can claim “I say what I want. I call it like I see it,” all day.. but how much more effective would I be if my words spoke life to those around me, rather than calling out another’s insecurity or shortcoming.

It is as I sit here and write this to you that I begin to understand something: My personality, this extroverted, loud, full of emotion personality that I possess, is not a flaw…when used correctly. God hasn’t made me less, no matter how many times I’ve asked, because he expects more. For every time I have said too much, been too harsh, or word-vommited all over somebody..there is a time when I made someone feel comfortable in a crowd, when I lightened someone’s heart, or said the right thing at the right time. This “flaw” is really my greatest gift. And I find that to be true for many others’ gifts as well. Instead of trying to fix myself, instead of taking matters into my own hands.. what if I were to embrace and harness it? By loving Jesus, continuing to learn His heart, wouldn’t the “oops, I said too much” times happen less, and the words that lift others up occur more? I’m just learning as I type, people.

More 23 suckage: everyone you know is getting engaged. Living out some lavish love story, have babies, flashing diamonds…twisting the knife with a Lo-Fi filter and some heart emojis. A horrible time to be single with a cat and trying to “find yourself.” I didn’t even realize I was becoming bitter, until I heard a phrase today that jostled something in my soul: “Stop finding your self-worth in your relationship status, and start finding it in your relationship with Jesus Christ.” I know I know, it sounds like some lame excuse single people use to justify being alone. And everyone wants a romance. Its hard wired into our DNA..  and I am no exception. Now hear me when I say: I am not telling you not to get married, and have babies, and fall in love. But it is today, on Valentine’s Day, that I was reminded of the greatest love of them all. Saint Valentine was persecuted for his Christian faith, and ultimately executed for refusing to convert. And even in the midst of such persecution, he was still speaking of his God and breathing life into those around him. That is a love story worth longing for. Sure, I wouldn’t mind roses and romance and someone pursuing me.. but I firmly believe that first, I must do the pursuing. Pursuing my good, good Father, who loves me so fiercely that a worldly love simply could not satisfy my desire.

I have been hard on myself, and incredibly critical, throughout the blogs of this year. Because quite frankly: I am experience some rough growing pains. Unlike some, my life has consisted of mistake after painful mistake as my only way of learning. Sure, I could stay bitter. Imagine all the do-overs in my head that would make things different. And that would lead to a really great fantasy… and not a single bit of progress. OR, I can feel the pain of 23, understand that there were many times when I could have done better, and then leave 23 right here. Empty my heart of these burdens, to leave room for growth. I choose the latter.

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