Then, I Will Be Somebody.
“I want to graduate with honors!”
Those were the words I told myself when I was in senior year in high school.
I was an average student. In short, I was’t the smartest nor the most diligent one, but I still manage to pass all my subjects every school year. My grades were all average. However, during my senior year I was driven by the desire to achieve more. To do more than I could do. To be one of the top students in my class, even more, to be one of the top students in my batch. And so, I did everything I could: I studied harder, I joined school clubs, and participated in school activities.
The end result was great. I graduated with honor.
I whispered to myself. Achievement unlock.
The medal on my chest made me feel important. It made me feel that I mattered.
Finally. I am somebody.
That ‘achievement’ was the beginning of my journey to desire more. I became incredibly ambitious. (HAHAHA! Despite my feeling of incompetency.)
I did well in my first few years in college. However, it turns out that those ‘achievements’ were short lived. At least, as far as I concerned.
The screws only got tighter for the rest of my college years; during exams, I recall the dreadful feeling of going blank because I was filled with so much anxiety. With so much pressure.
‘If I did not do well, if I am not the student who excels, then who I am??’
I was studying not out of love, but out of fear of what it would mean if I failed — out of fear of what would it mean if I do not graduate on time.
I became slave to my performance where grades on my papers were more than just numbers but a measure of my own worth and identity.
I failed. Multiple times.
Every failed marks threatened my identity. There were tons of moments when anxiety was taking over my life.
I was not the ‘good’ student anymore, I was a failure. I was a nobody. I unconsciously thought that if I didn’t get good grades, I would be worthless.
My story may be a bit extreme, but perhaps, you can relate.
Perhaps, you have demanding parents for whom nothing was ever good enough.
Perhaps, you have demanding boss for whom successes aren’t really successes but simply non failures.
Perhaps, you have friends for whom being belong means you have to be ‘cool’ like ‘em.
Or perhaps, you’re like me who sets impossible standards to herself to be worthy.
Allow me to share the things I’ve learnt from this journey,
Once you reach the top, maintaining that spot is awful. No one can live under the burden of perfection forever.
Do not destroy yourself reaching a goal that doesn’t exist.
Do not anchor your identity into something that won’t last.
“If I do this, then I will be somebody.”
“If I accomplish this, then I will matter.”
“If I reach this goal, then I will be valuable.”
This experience I had made me feel terrible.
I was born and raised in a Christian family.
I studied in a Christian school when I was in high school.
I have matured Christian friends.
I used to have perfect church attendance.
What I am trying to say is, I was one of those people who claims that I “know” who Jesus is and understand what He did for me — His birth is the reason why we celebrate Christmas, He preached the good news, He died on the cross and then rose from the dead after three days.
But the brutal reality is that, I do not fully understand the weight of what He did on the cross for me, not until I reached the end of the line, the end of my rope, the limit of my capability.
For YEARS, I tried so hard to be worthy. For YEARS, I based my value on my achievements. For YEARS, I anchored my identity in things that won’t lasts.
For YEARS, I thought my identity would be defined
“BECAUSE I performed well.”
“BECAUSE I did my part.”
“BECAUSE I obeyed the rules.”
For YEARS, I failed to realized that my identity, my worth, and my value, is not anchored in what I can accomplish but in what Jesus accomplished for me.
No more “Because I…”
BECAUSE HE lives.
Child of the one true king.
Yes, this post is inspired by Matthew West’s song entitled “Hello, My Name Is”