I grew up in a Lutheran home, and had a lot of Catholic friends in high school, so I’m used to giving up stuff for Lent. It’s just a thing for me. Some years, I decide to do something in particular – ie daily devotions, intentional prayer, daily kindnesses, etc – but most years it’s about letting go of something that plays a big role in my daily life.
Lent has never been a thing for my kids, but this year, the older two have become aware. P and I were talking about it on the way home from the studio last night. I told her it was supposed to be something difficult to do without. Then she announced what she’s decided to give up for the next 40 (well, 38 now) days. She’s giving up caring what people think about her. I was silent for a moment after she said that. Then I told her that’s probably a good thing for her to think about right now.
It’s not easy to not care what people think about you, especially when you’re a girl in high school. It’s hard for me to not care what people think about me, and I’m a LOT of years removed from high school. She’s reached a place in the last few months that gives too much credit to what other people think, and what she believes other people think of her. From my point of view, she’s let it hold her back, let it influence her daily life and her decisions. She’s fearful and insecure. I long for my brave, bold, confident girl to return. I see glimpses of her every once in awhile.
Why do we care so much what others think of us? Well, we are social beings. We want to be accepted, we need to find our people. But we shouldn’t do that at the sacrifice of ourselves. We shouldn’t change to fit someone else’s idea of what is good and acceptable. We should be proud of who we are, what we are.
I’ve learned it is easier for others to accept us if we first accept ourselves and are happy with ourselves. It took me entirely too long to find that place. If I’d focused on me, rather than other’s perceptions of me, I would have found that self-acceptance much earlier in life. I don’t know how to convey that to her without it sounding cliche or like something stupid your mom would say.
It will be an interesting six weeks to say the least, and a good life lesson if she’s able to let go at least a little bit of that caring so much what others think. Live YOUR life, my sweet girl. Lead, don’t be led. Be your beautiful you. Be brave, be bold. Rise up, rise above. If someone doesn’t like you just the way you are, that truly is their problem. You aren’t going to please everyone. Not everyone in this world is going to be your friend. That’s okay, really. Don’t let fear hold you back. Don’t give up who you are to fit someone else’s mold. Go be great.