I just spent a good 20 minutes scrolling down my blog. Scrolling through the 200 posts and almost 146,000 words. I’ve gotten a little teary. I’ve felt some rage. I’ve seen where I’ve come from.
I’ve felt kind of proud.
I’ve also backspaced a lot in the last hour. I’ve written what I’ve now realized are disclaimers and excuses. (They are also full of my eye-rolling a lot which I’ve been told to stop)
Because the bottom line is that the words flitting through my brain all have to do with identity.
The words flitting through me all have to do with me peeling labels off of myself and remembering that I am more than.
I’m working on getting out of a box I placed myself in and figuring out ways to do that.
I am more than.
I am more than a Christian. I am more than my stamps in my passport. I am more than a preschool teacher. I am more than the single friend. I am more than the friend that says yes. I am more than a two on the Enneagram. I am more than a doormat. I am more than the youngest. I am so much more than the lack of a ring on my finger. I am more than a strong independent woman who needs no man. I am more than all the things I feel I owe my friends. I am more than a plus-size female. I am more than my inabilities.
I am more than.
This list could keep going and going.
But, what I’ve realized is for every box I’ve been put in by someone else I’ve also put myself in probably the same box.
Just because I’ve decorated it with word art and pictures of my friends doesn’t mean it still isn’t a box.
This year I’m working on remembering I’m worthy enough to take myself out of boxes.
Because the thing about a box is that eventually, it’s gonna break down. It’s just up to us whether we are the one that does the breaking.
I don’t 100% know what all these words are for. I don’t know what is springing out of these reminders to myself.
But, I do know that we have the ability to move. We have the ability to choose to believe that we are more than.
And it’s fucking hard.
It’s hard to live in a world that tells you that you belong in a category to not believe you belong in one.
It’s hard to live in a culture that makes you check so many boxes so that they know how to deal with you.
It’s weird to live in this world and not do it to yourself without even knowing.
But, I’m deciding today it’s going to be possible.
I’m deciding that I am going to do my damnedest to not stay in the boxes I’ve put myself in.
They aren’t my whole identity, they color and highlight parts of who I am and they are beautiful and heartbreaking parts of my story.
But, I am more than them.
You, human reading this, are more than something too.
If you’re feeling brave, shoot me a comment or a message on Instagram (@megmagnolia). Take a picture and post it with the hashtag #smashthecardboardboxes
Let’s remind each other that the people who put us in boxes most often are simply ourselves.
The concept of identity is so damn weird.
We spend our childhood, for the most part, doing whatever the heck we want. We make choices and we try activities and we more or less do what feels good, fun or what we are forced to do by the adults around us. Through that we begin to find our likes and dislikes, what makes us happy and what we are good at. We little by little find out who we are.
Then, at some point, people start telling us who we are.
And here’s the kicker: we believe them.
We spent how many years of our childhood never believing our parents when they said broccoli was good (it is) and that we’d have fun at school ( for the most part truth), but the minute someone said “You are not…” or “You are too..” it was automatically engrained into our person.
What was I told that I believed?
I was: too sensitive, not normal, a silly talker, too fat, a nerd, four eyes, not cool, not popular, not talented, not worth it.
The list, in this moment, seems endless.
And yet, I didn’t believe that broccoli was good.
Then as we get older and become a teenager and go into high school the voices get louder and louder.
And all we are told is that “sticks and stones make break your bones but words will never hurt you”
Sorry not sorry that’s BS.
I want you to close your eyes for thirty seconds and I bet you can think of AT LEAST 3 phrases that have hurt you. If you can’t that’s great!
And I get the fact that words shouldn’t have power over us. And you give people permission, etc. etc.
But that’s not my point.
My point is that as a child and a teenager we are told a LOT OF WORDS involving our identity.
And really, shouldn’t we be the only ones who decipher who we are?
It reminds me of that scene in Runaway Bride where the main character is figuring out what type of eggs she likes. She’s only ever like the type of eggs that man she is with likes and she doesn’t know that piece of herself.
She’s probably a woman in her mid to late 20s and she doesn’t know what type of eggs she likes because she’s spent the last few years letting other people tell her what she liked.
So here’s my question: why don’t we teach kids how to find who they are? Why don’t we let them explore and fail and not try broccoli, but instead we tell them they’re too loud or too quiet or too sensitive?
Identity is defined as the of being who or what a person or thing is.
The weird part about identity is we are already thing we are supposed to be, but it’s just been bogged down and covered and marred by phrases and traumas and statements that other people believed were true. Just because something is a lie to me doesn’t mean it’s not truth to another person.
Just because something started as a lie to me doesn’t mean it can’t become a truth I walk in.
That’s not great I realize, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen or hasn’t happened.
Identity is weird because AS MUCH as we need people to not tell us who we are, and to not define us, we also need other people to tell us who we are.
We need people to remind us of the beautiful undeniably true things.
Take my work wife Victoria.
I met her four years ago and we didn’t really become friends til a few months later, but she is without a doubt one of the kindest, giving humans I’ve ever met.
She gives more grace than she believes she is capable of, she loves harder and more authentically than most humans.
Victoria cares so much.
But I don’t think she’d ever say that about herself. So, I make sure to try to tell her and remind her. I am not perfect at it, but I know she doesn’t always believe those things so I just want her to know that I see her and I see her beauty.
Identity is weird because we do sort of need the world to tell us who we are. We need them to see the beauty we are sometimes incapable of seeing and the nooks and crannies we’ve been told so often aren’t there.
Identity is weird because we need to filter what people tell us and toss out what we don’t need and keep what we do.
Identity is weird because we are already who we are- we just have to figure out who that is.
We have to make the choice to believe broccoli is good and what kind of eggs we do or don’t like (like: scrambled, fried, poached, over easy. don’t like: hard boiled, egg salad). We have to reframe things that have become truths in our life or toss them out all together.
And we have to actively remind people of the good in them, because that stirs up the good in us.
About a year ago or so I was in a place where I kind of, sort of, wanted nothing to do with God. But I had made commitments to show up to different things, so I showed up.
One night I went to a prophetic worship night at my church and I 150% didn’t want to participate.
But, one of my humans ask me to go to a certain station to wherein you wrote words for the person in the picture that was covered up by a sheet. For other people, I realized I had beautiful words.
Then it came time to share- and I wasn’t going to and then another one of my humans asked me to (and I did, because it’s who I am to a fault) and then he asked me to take the sheet off the pictures.
(If looks could kill, he might have been dead)
Under the sheet was a mirror.
But, what I realized was I had stirred something up in myself for someone else, the words were clearly for me. Plain as day ( so I wrote them in “I” form- pictured below).
So, what I want you to do right now is 1 of three things (why not all three?).
1. (The least scary) I want you to write down good, real, true things about yourself.
2. (The next least scary) I want you to text, email, call, carrier pigeon, some words to a human in your life about who they are (look upward at what I said about Victoria- it’s that easy).
3.(The most scary-maybe) Text, email, call, carrior pigeon a friend and ask them if they can tell you three things about who you are as a human. If that feels weird, just say it’s for a job application because they always ask those kind of questions. Or honestly if you are someone that knows me you can 100% text me “Hey Meg, #3 please”
Identity is weird because we get told a whole hell of a lot of things that aren’t true to us but become true.
Identity is weird because we both need and don’t need people to find who we are.
Identity is weird because broccoli is actually good and I’m not too sensitive.
Growing up with a mom who was in the business of helping others I picked up a smattering of advice.
you have to suffer for beauty
if you don’t wear clean underwear something bad will happen
always make your makeup look natural
never return a dish without something in it even if it is just some store-bought cookies.
The one lesson though that I heard my mom preaching day after day was when you were stuck in yourself, stuck in your addiction, stuck in whatever you are in: you need to do something for someone else. Bake something, clean something, DO something outside of yourself.
And that is something I have grabbed onto and ran with.
When I am too inside of myself, when I can’t figure why I am down or depressed or when there is LITERALLY nothing I can do to make myself feel better; I do.
I bake, I clean, I buy someone a present, write someone a card. Keep my hands busy. Not allow myself to go into a black hole of murky unknown without a way out.
And that has lead to many different trails of life.
It’s led me to loving better because I’ve learned to try to make peoples days a little happier. I’ve learned that I treasure loving others and helping them.
But it’s also led me to spiraling into a depression and anxiety and collapsing on the floor because I’ve chosen not to think but just to do.
It’s why I detest the phrase “fake it til you make it” because while it does hold value to sometimes it also leads us to walking away from feelings and emotions that are good to have and get through.
I’ve had a couple of sleepless nights in a row; waking up with my heart pounding and my chest heaving with anxiety. I’ve been unable to get into a restful regular sleep and I know it’s because things are being pulled up and I’m longing to run to places I’m comfortable that in all reality don’t exist here.
I’m having to force myself to sit in anxiety and I’m striving to find words to fit the feelings and emotions of sentences that lack explanation.
But I’m also baking. Cleaning. Doing. Creating. Walking.
Because as my mind spins around and around with no place to land my hands will continue to move. And I will continually learn to write and speak and be. I was told this week by our rocker, renaissance man of an instructor Herman Haan to continuing writing because people need my story. They need to hear what I have to say.
So I will continuing saying them and writing them and figuring them out.
But I will continue baking and doing.
So this is why I bake. This is why I show up places with muffins and cookies. Partly because I enjoy it, I love baking, writing, cooking, serving but also I do out of place of healing.
So maybe I need to do less and talk more, I’ll strive for a balance but I want to encourage you; if you are stuck in a circle, if you don’t what to do or where to go, make something, bake something, help someone and you will have a moment of clarity in the midst of the chaos. You will create something and not destroy a piece of yourself.