This is a post for the misunderstood.
That’s kind of weird sounding, so let me rephrase: This is me, panicking at the last minute because I didn’t have anything to write about, and therefore plunging into a deep and philosophical pondering.
You should be.
To dive right in, I’ll start with a quick history lesson. I wasn’t always a writer. I wasn’t always an artist. I wasn’t always witty. I wasn’t even a nerd. And I’m not talking about back when I was four; nope, I only started drawing seriously about three years ago, and writing a year later.
Before that, I was a shy little dork who slicked her hair back in a low ponytail (I’ve graduated to a high one…) and would literally tremble when people she didn’t know talked to her. (I still do that, but it’s not as obvious…) Back then, I didn’t have a useful thing to my name. In fact, some of my aunts nicknamed me ‘The Decoration’.
Stop freaking out, people, it was a joke. Because I would sit in my little corner of the house like a queen, even though I didn’t really do anything. I laughed at it just as much as the rest of them. Still do. But I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t times when I’d look at Anna—Anna, who was good with kids and a whiz at cleaning houses, Anna who could knit and sew and fall down stairs like a pro, Anna who was so Godly and deep, Anna who everyone simultaneously loved and was terrified of—I’d look at Anna and wish that for once in my life, people might look past her and see me, not as a decoration who never said anything, but as a genius in disguise.
Okay, that might be pushing it, but you get the point. NOT TO SAY THAT NO ONE LOVED ME OR LIKED ME. Far from it. But I wasn’t good at things. I wasn’t noticeable. I was a decoration.
I would never have let on to it, but deep down inside, that always bugged me.
Fast forward three years, and here I am. I can draw. I can write. I can make people laugh. Sweet elvish waybread, I’m even a nerd. But the insecurities, the fear that no one would like me unless I was good at something, didn’t leave. Yes, at this point, I’ve gotten over it. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an awesome person. Can’t deny it. But it took me a pretty long time to get to this point.
See, I staked my self-worth on attributes. Writing, drawing, even humor. Though it’s a noble *cough* trait, I’m not going to save the world by being funny. Sorry. Ain’t gonna happen. And I’m CERTAINLY not going to draw it to death. When I first started my book, I worried for the longest time that no one was going to like it because it wasn’t Tolkien, and subsequently, wrote as much Tolkien into it as I could. The first draft is actually pretty amusing, especially when I came across the line:
“To you, Liriel Willowtree, I give [insert magical lantern thingy that was probably made from the light of a star]. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
I was going strong on the originality here.
Just so we’re clear, that part got cut. I finally learned that if people want Tolkien, they’re not going to come to my book to get it. For Tolkien, they’re going to go to Tolkien.
Is that not profound?
People will come to my book because they want to get my book out of it. Not Tolkien. Not that funny writer person I really admire. Me. I don’t have to change my writing into something it’s not in order to make people like it. I simply have to be myself.
I think the world is starting to catch onto this philosophy. Haven’t you heard all this ‘Be Your Inner Star!’ propaganda? ‘Let yourself go!’ ‘Be true to yourself!’ Blah blah blah. Note that I completely disregard all of this. You know why?
Because the world’s idea of unique is still a stereotype.
There is the definition of cool. And everything cool or popular fits within that category. And then there’s the definition of ‘Unique’ and ‘Being Yourself’, and if your natural personality doesn’t fit into that category, then you must not be unique or yourself. We all know that one person who dresses outrageously and says, “This is just my unique style.” Um, news flash: There are 7.5 billion people in the world, and I bet at least two-thousand of them think that your unique style is their unique style. There is absolutely no way to be original nowadays. Someone will have always, always done it first.
If that’s the case, then how can we ever be noticed? How can people like us when we’re not geniuses or fashion designers in the midst of a world full of geniuses and fashion designers? The thing is, our worth doesn’t come from our ability to write, or the color of shoes we decided to wear. Our worth is so, so much deeper than that. Our worth comes from God, who created us each unique, and the work that He does in our hearts, and through us.
Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. ~1 Peter 1:18-19
We may forget what this means sometimes, but we are people. We are living, breathing evidence of God’s extraordinary craftsmanship, and that alone makes us incredibly unique, every single one of us. What is in our hearts is so much more beautiful than what we can do with our hands. It doesn’t matter if you’re funny, or artsy, or beautiful.
Real friends, the friends worth having, will love you for who you are on the inside.
I know that’s hard to believe sometimes (trust me, I was a shadow for most of my life, and consequently know all the struggles shadows face), especially when there’s a particularly amazing person in your life who completely dwarfs you by their amazingness, incredibleness, and just over all awesomeness. But listen:
It’s the characters in the story that seem the least likely to succeed who end up saving the world.
So if you feel discouraged because you think everyone around you is so much better, remember that I would infinitely prefer to be you. Because now I think people only see my worth through my artistic side, and not because I’m a *cough* nice *cough cough* person. But people like you because of you.
Moral of the story: Stop trying to be Tolkien.