“I mean, you’ve got a nice face,” he said.
“But you wouldn’t say I’m pretty overall?”
He gave me a once-over, smirked, and turned around in his desk to face the front of the class.
“You’re fat and ugly, that’s why,” were the words in my mind that supplemented Brad’s silence.
And that’s when it was confirmed to eighth-grade Corinne that she was overweight and unwanted.
And I’ve believed that lie for almost a decade.
But now I know I’m not, and I want to know who told you that you are.
Who told you that you’re fat?
Who said you’re unintelligent or flimsy or too hard to love?
What voice said to you, “you’ll never make it?”
Because if you and I are going to know ourselves, we have to open the door of examining our pasts and take a look at the sources of our doubts for the future.
Here’s the funny thing about the past: it’s defined as, “gone by in time and no longer existing,” but for the most part, it’s the past that defines the future.
Conversations may be gone by in time, but certain words stick.
They stay around for the long haul and will either paralyze us or springboard us towards greater things.
Brad’s words became rooted in my beliefs about myself, and I let myself grow into the false identity of being “unattractive and fat.”
His words drew my attention inward.
And I became insecure and selfish.
But Brad’s weren’t the only words that stuck.
I’d had other voices tell me I was big-boned, overweight, and masculine.
And I didn’t know how to filter the truth from the lies.
I didn’t realize I was allowing their opinions to put me in a box that would hinder me from growing into the truest form of myself.
But it’s not just others who have nudged me into boxes of identity; I’ve put myself into those boxes on my own, and I wonder which ones you may be in without knowing it.
And by “boxes” I mean any form of self-identity that you put your value into, whether it be athleticism or creativity or intelligence.
Take for example my friend Mark. Mark grew up being told that he was going to be an incredible athlete one day.
He trained and practiced and achieved and it became who he was.
But then it came time for Mark to be creative and inspire people through his career. (Which for him was not as a professional athlete.)
Mark didn’t realize he had the option of stepping into the box of creativity, because all he’d ever known was that of athleticism.
Steve Jobs once said,
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.
And looking backwards, it’s easy to see how we’ve let others’ words and our own perceptions of ourselves shape who we are right now.
But I want us to consider what it would look like to step out of the boxes we’ve been told we should stay in- or that our minds have made up for us- and into boxes that we’ve been too afraid to venture into.
Or better yet, maybe it’s time we crush those boxes of the past and determine to become the healthiest, most well-rounded versions of ourselves as we can.
Let’s look at forgiving the voices that told us we couldn’t or that we aren’t enough and remind the hearts around us that they’re more than enough and capable of great things.
Here’s my reminder to you that you are.
You are not walled in by what the voices of the past have called you.
We’ll get into the practical side of things this Thursday with our weekly challenge, but for now I want us to consider who we’ve been, and whether those editions of ourselves are accurate and who we want to be ten years from now when we look back to connect the dots of today.