In my twenty-one years, I've often struggled with feeling less-than. Whether it was on the soccer field in middle school, in the youth group in high school or even now, in the classroom at MC, it's been really easy for me to believe that I'm not enough for the setting that I'm in. I've learned a lot throughout the years, becoming more confident in my abilities and believing that I am who my Maker says I am.
Last semester, I took a creative writing class. On the first day, we were introduced to all that we'd be learning, writing and practicing as a group. My professor made jokes, attempting to lighten the mood, considering we'd be spending the rest of the semester being critiqued and critiquing each other's work. In the midst of the introduction, he looked at us and stated, "I'm here to tell you that your baby is ugly."
I know it sounds crazy, but he wasn't kidding. In the world of writing, we practice a think called "workshopping" where we read each other's work and offer constructive criticism. It can be uncomfortable to have people read something you worked hard on, and sometimes it hurts to have it critiqued, but in the end, it's all for the sake of making each other better. Our professor was going to tell us our baby (our writing) was ugly so we'd have the tools to make them pretty.
At first, I wasn't so good at being workshopped. I considered the work I produced to be a direct reflection of my abilities; if people didn't like it (aka, they had any single piece of advice for it), that meant I wasn't a good writer, I wasn't clever, smart or interesting. I believed that I was less-than because my writing wasn't perfect. I was allowing the smallest amount of critique or comment to change how I viewed myself.
Thankfully, after a few weeks of being workshopped, I figured something out: I had the option not to let their comments affect me. I had the ability to leave my identity at the door when I walked in the classroom.
Here's the truth (that I so often forget): our identities are solidified when we accept Christ. Our performance in the classroom, at our jobs, on our sports teams, within our friend group, and for me, in my writing, doesn't affect who we really are. The God who made us calls us chosen, beloved, righteous and enough. He tells us that the opinion of man doesn't matter. He tells us that He had made us worthy. He has told us that He loves us.
When I began to remember who my Maker says I am, I stopped allowing what happened in the classroom affect how I feel about myself. I began to leave my identity at the door when I walked in, confident in the identity that Christ has given me.
After I learned to leave my identity at the door, my performance in my classes improved. I stopped thinking that I was less-than. Once I stopped being afraid of what people would think, of getting questions wrong or having my writing critiqued, I was more willing to take risks and be myself.
So, friends, this is my invitation for you to leave your identity at the door. Don't worry about getting things wrong. Don't be afraid of speaking up when you know something. Take risks, be yourself and believe that your Maker is telling the truth about who you are. I promise, the grass is greener on this side.
Lover of constructive criticism, coffee & cats