In high school speech class, a classmate gave me an award for being the quietest person in the class. My acceptance speech? “Thanks. . . uh, I guess I’ll just keep being quiet.” The award was justified; I was by far the quietest person. But it hurt me. I didn’t like how silent and timid I was, but I didn’t feel like I could change. I rarely spoke out in class or with my friends, and when I did, I felt awkward.
I trapped myself. My naturally peaceful, introspective personality had earned the label of “quiet girl,” so I stuck with it. The thought of diverting from my norm steadily grew less realistic as the months and years went on.
I wonder if you’ve ever felt this way: trapped by your personality. We each hold a unique mix of natural inclinations: peacefulness, humor, friendliness, seriousness. You won’t find a human on this earth who thinks, feels, and acts exactly like you. And that is beautiful, whether you’re an introvert or not! Life would be so dull without it.
The problem is, we tend to take those natural inclinations and chisel them into stone: determine them to be absolute and unchangeable.
Consider this: just because you’re an internal processor doesn’t mean you have nothing to say. Just because you don’t like public speaking doesn’t mean you can’t speak powerfully into the lives around you. Just because strangers make you anxious doesn’t mean you can’t make new friends.
If you're more extroverted, the same is true for you. Just because you enjoy expressing yourself doesn’t mean you always must have something profound to say. Just because you're always the life of the party doesn't mean you can't take some alone time to rest.
Hear me when I say this: We have no duty to maintain others’ views of us. Let’s surprise some people every once in a while. Let’s surprise ourselves every once in a while, for goodness sakes! Don’t let your personality become a prison. Live free!
Interestingly, living free has two sides. It means that we don’t have to meet predetermined expectations, yes, but it also means that we don’t have to struggle to change ourselves. Purely natural personality holds profound beauty and power.
Here’s an example: I currently work as a tutor in an elementary school. One of the 3rd grade teachers I help is extremely sweet. Her classroom is often chaotic, and my job is to keep the kids on track. On some of the wildest days, she’s surprised me by thanking me for the peace and calmness I brought into the classroom. Where I’d thought I should have been more energetic and demanding of the kids, it turns out that my peaceful, caring personality helped them focus and learn more effectively. It turns out that my natural personality is exactly what that classroom needed. Don’t doubt for a second that your natural personality and spirit can make a great impact on the people in your life.
Here’s the thing, though: you're not going to make much of an impact if you're either focused on breaking out of your personality or committed to being confined by it.
Learning to live free and comfortably as who you are is a process. It takes many trials and errors, awkward encounters, and lessons learned. To be successful, the whole effort must be fueled by this truth: Your personality doesn’t have to hold you back, because in reality, it’s your beauty and your power. It’s who you are; what God has clothed you with. Capture it and use it for every ounce of impact, influence and glory to God that it’s worth. You will do great things with joy when you let yourself live free.
[Your beauty] should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. -1 Peter 3:4
God sees the greatest beauty in your inner self. Use it to impact this world in the way that only YOU can.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Look forward to new posts every Monday morning!