If you didn’t know, I’m working on a new book and it has me seeing myself in a new way. Whether I’m checking myself out in the mirror or doing some soul searching in preparation for next week, clarity has always been an issue for me. It’s easier to see myself through the eyes of others. They have a better view, right?

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 1.10.56 PMLast night, I clicked through a Facebook link to have a quiz guess my age and height based on my selection of New Balance shoes, leggings, and a t-shirt. Guess what? I’m eighteen and 5’7″ tall. *eye roll* In truth, my birth certificate can confirm I’m 38, and while my high school volleyball coach would swear I’m 5’9″, I’m closer to 5’8″. But to be completely honest, I act younger than my age, so I can understand how Facebook got confused.

Why is it we seek to define ourselves by the standards of the world around us?

I get asking a trusted friend if an outfit is cute or running an idea I have by a colleague to make sure I’m not embarrassing myself of social media. One of the problems I see is when we turn to a celebrity to emulate their look or attitude, only to have them change their persona tomorrow. We also have an awful habit of letting our failures define who we are instead of allowing the mishaps and bad days to help us grow into who we want to be.

If I asked you to reveal who you are in 3-5 words, could you do it?

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Ugh. I hate this type of exercise. Flexing reality means I’m going to have to admit that I’m lazy or controlling. (So, I took an FB quiz and you can see my results to the left.) Curious if this was only difficult for me, I asked my son the question. Luke is an eleven-year-old boy who loves life, but hates school. Typical. If I had to choose 5 words to (honestly) describe him, I’d say funny, energetic, kind, distracted, and anxious.

Now, Luke said he’s courageous, awesome, talented, kind, and helpful. He’s not lacking in humility! LOL!

First off, I wish I had the spirit of an eleven-year-old. Kids tend to see a mix of who they are and who they want to be in themselves. Most don’t see the hindrances and obstacles in front of them, they just are who they want to be. And, I know Luke looks in the mirror every morning and sees himself as handsome! I love it! He hasn’t been overtaken by hormones, thwarted by giggling girls, or shaken by social media…yet.

Secondly, Luke didn’t stop halfway through rattling off his attributes and ask for help. He knows who he is and who he wants to be. In the past, I’ve gone through seasons of dwelling on what others think of me, and for what? Wading in old nicknames and doubt never allowed me to move forward, but kept me at a standstill (I may have even regressed thinking about those high school nicknames).

I’m sure your thinking, thanks for reminding me of all that junk, but don’t worry I plan to offer a solution. I want to clear first, this solution takes daily effort. This is not a one-stop shop. There’s no magic pill. You can’t expect results if you don’t put in the work. But, as my husband says, a little bit of effort goes a long way.

Here goes, if you want to leave the past behind and run toward your potential you need to stop trying to reflect others and be yourself. Embrace your uniqueness. If you can’t, then there’s no wonder others don’t. I believe we’re all created to be individuals who support and encourage each other. We are all different, but have the same value. You are valuable.

Next time you’re asked to define yourself in 3-5 words, don’t hesitate. Don’t second guess yourself. Don’t copy words someone else used to describe themselves. As much as I want to see myself as an up and coming Kristin Cashore or Suzanne Collins, reflecting them won’t get me to my potential. And, focusing on who I’ve been won’t lead me to the future I want.

Take a look at yourself for who you were created to be, and avoid the muddled, constantly changing view the world offers.

Seek clarity. Be you.