If you have been following my blog, you may have noticed that I was absent in the blogging space for a while. I took a two-month break to navigate my work and process an upcoming international move.
While I’m away, I sketched and painted watercolour paintings, read novels by the pool, swam in the lake, hiked the mountains, barbecued with friends, prayed and journaled a ton. These two months have been tremendously helpful for me to get clarity in my online work. I feel more grounded and more confident in being myself.
Perhaps we all need a little bit more confidence in being our authentic selves.
When I took a break from blogging, I had been doing it weekly for 20 months. For a mom of two children under 4, living in a tiny apartment, it is no small thing to keep up with the consistency. With all the effort put into it, writing had been turning from a creative outlet to a career I want to build.
However, by the end of those 20 months, I started to feel drained and stuck. I didn’t know what to write about. Perhaps I’d been buying in so much information on social media that I failed to hear the voice of my own soul. I was too busy following and admiring many other authors and their words to give myself enough space to dig deep for my own words.
I finally realized that I had given social media too much time and attention to influence my thinking and perspective. The subconscious comparison game restricted my creativity and bound me with the fear of not fitting in.
Thankfully, after stepping back from weekly producing and the noise of Instagram, I saw how ridiculous it is for me to want to “fit in”.
I grew up and went to university in China, started my spiritual formation years by working in an international, interdenominational environment, received further theology training in a Chinese seminary in Spain, and then married and had children in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.
Where can I possibly fit in? Can I fit in that group of American writers who grew up in a Baptist church? Or can I fit in those mommy bloggers who love the Honest diapers and baby creams (they don’t even ship to Switzerland) and style their daughter’s hair every day? What about those social media influencers who often pose like supermodels and seem to have not eaten anything for weeks?
On a smaller scale, I had confronted the urge to fit in before. About ten years ago, I was a student and volunteer worker living in a Swiss-French village. I was the only Chinese there and desperately wanted to make friends. I pretended to be fond of what others liked and tried to behave and speak in their ways. But it didn’t work. After months of trying, I wasn’t invited to any group or party because I was introverted and craving cooked-through warm rice. I was still too different.
One day, I locked myself in my room and sobbed in God’s presence, pouring out my feeling of loneliness and insecurity to Him. Then, I heard Him say to me: “Stop trying to fit in. Just be yourself. You will attract the right people to you.”
That was what I did. And it worked miraculously! I held this Word to heart and soon started to make real friends—- friends that accepted who I was and acted kindly towards my difference from them.
Fast forward, ten years later, I found myself relearning this lesson in a different context. I compared myself and my work in the internet space, losing my confidence little by little because I could never fit in.
Those Words rang loud again in my head: “Stop trying to fit in. Just be yourself. You will attract the right people to you.”
Chances are, my friend, you don’t feel fit in either. Maybe your mom is Australian, and your dad is from Northern Ireland, but you grew up in East Asia and speak fluent Mandarin. Maybe your family immigrated from Hong Kong to the UK when you were a toddler, and you were the only Asian in your class. Perhaps you have a degree from Stanford University, and now you are married to a woman from Indonesia and live in Bali. Where can you fit in? How can you fit in?
The truth is simple: you weren’t made to fit in. You were made to be you. The unique version of you with all your quirks, personalities, shortcomings, backgrounds, cultures, languages, talents and magic is needed in the world to make it shine brighter!
My friend, I hope this acknowledgement that we weren’t made to fit in any group but to fully and boldly live our life from the place of enough and worthiness will give you greater confidence to own who you are, as it has done for me.