I have always prided myself on being a very self-confident and secure person. I was taught in many different ways that insecurity and low self esteem were at the pinnacle of evil, especially for women. “Confidence is king.” “Fake it ’til you make it.” “Look up, not down.” “Don’t cross your arms too much. You’ll look scared and unsure.” “People will follow you if you look like you know where you’re going…and no one needs to know that you don’t have any idea where that is.” These are the mantras that were on loop in my head. Followed by the loud blaring gong that rung, “You must be known for something!” The quirks of my competitive personality combined with the fact that I was (and still am) always surrounded by extremely talented people had created this idea in me that I needed to always keep up, to be known at being good, no, the best at something, anything! And I think I did…for a while.
And then, I became a mom. And not just any kind of mom, I made the decision to be a stay at home mom. And let me be exceptionally and brilliantly clear that I do not regret this decision for one nanosecond. Being a stay at home mom was my decision and it was the absolutely right one for me…but that decision making process is a story for another day. The point is, four years ago I changed my trajectory a little bit. I stepped out of the realm of society I was “known” in and I entered a quieter and less visible world. I shifted my goals. I hunkered down in this new world, determined to conquer it and the constant voice in my head that said I couldn’t survive in it and I made it my own. I forged my own way through and added another bullet point to my resume: stay at home mom.
But the other world that I left, the world of talented people with unique skills and sought after job titles, they moved on too. Some of them physically moved on. There has been an exodus happening around me lately. Everyone flooding to their own individual meccas, which for most of them, seems to be the great state of California (darn, you California, with your great weather and fascinating jobs). But God has been gracious and as I have lost long lists of friends, He has brought in a few sweet and meaningful friendships that I cling to like a life raft sometimes, and some old friends have fought the good fight of staying put and I hold on to them for dear life as well. But here is the interesting part about new friendships: they only know who you are now. Your past struggles and triumphs and your reputation and your being “known at being good at something, anything” have left with those dear friends who have moved on. You have to start over, even if you never really physically left.
I am married to an incredibly talented man with an incredibly talented reputation. I am often told how talented he is. I know how sought after he has become. I could list his accomplishments out for you here until I run out of bullet points, but I won’t do that because this is about me, dang it. Just google “Greg Perkins” and you’re bound to find one of his many achievements. And don’t get me wrong, every time someone is kind enough to pass along their admiration of him to me, I burst with pride. I know where he has come from and I know the battles he has waged and so I am proud of him for the path he has found himself traveling down. But, every time, in the far corners of my brain/ego a small voice pipes up and asks “I wonder if anyone ever tells him how talented YOU are? Because I think they used to.”
And before I know it “Insignificance” and “Insecurity” have become my best friends. Those tiny two letters, that normally indicate a welcoming environment have attached themselves to two words I use to value more than anything. I have allowed my significance and my sense of security to be taken away with the addition of “In”. And I want to be clear in stating that I have allowed this to happen. No one took anything from me. No one forced that new first syllable on me. Nor is my struggle unique (I hope). But nonetheless, the correct decision I made four years ago has lead me to this new path. And this year, I am saying out with the in. And I have no idea how and I think it might require some bravery on my part and it might even involve some risk, both of which are running low in my arsenal these days but I will remove that pesky little syllable this year. Because the Truth of the matter is that my significance and my sense of security and self worth have nothing to do with what my job title is…or is not. My talents have remained the same, and hopefully grown, and it’s nobody’s job but my own to use them. Being a mom, even a stay at home mom, does not disqualify me from pursuing my interests or setting and meeting new goals in life that have nothing to do with my family. I’m replacing those earlier mantras in life with new ones, that have been guided and influenced by these past four years of quiet and subtle living.
And the first is Out With the In. You are no longer welcome. It’s time to rebuild.