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Overcoming the identity you thought you had

overcoming identity

Have you ever wondered if you are who you think you are? Or worse, if you’re trying to be someone you’re not?

Lately I can’t help but wonder.

After a very difficult conversation with an agent I’m beginning to wonder who I really am. I mean the woman behind all the masks and insecurities and all the ways in which I try to fit in. Where is the place I belong? Who is that girl?

You see, a few months ago I wrote a book called Pretty. And she questioned everything.

It was like she took a magnifying glass and found every single one of my flaws. She saw through me.

And I wonder, who am I trying to be?

You see all my life I’ve been “pretty”.

And many of you might say, oh poor thing. I get it.

I do.

But the truth is many of you have the same story. You might call it perfectionism, I call it pretty.

Maybe you were labeled as the pretty girl, the popular one, the cheerleader. Perhaps you were the book worm, the fat girl, the class clown. Or maybe you were the stoner, the loser, or the dropout.

And I’m learning every so slowly that when we see ourselves through others’ eyes, we fall prey to believing so many lies.

Who we are. What we can do. What we’re worthy of. Where we can go. Who we should become. All the wonders of possibility change when we identify with and believe what others say about us. What others say we are.

Pretty.

It’s not a role I chose and I have fought with every single thing I have to prove myself more. To be given a chance. To be seen as smart. Capable. Brave and kind.

Because when we judge someone based on her packaging we discount everything about her heart. We deny the part of us that is just like her.

Every single one of us is given an identity when we’re growing up and there’s good and bad sides to each one. And perhaps the reason it digs in so deeply is because there’s truth in it too.

Pretty is a costume.

Pretty is something we can put on with makeup, clothes, the right accessories and hair.

Deep inside where it matters, behind the costume, what’s hidden there?

In every way beneath my flesh I have warred against pretty.

To me, pretty has been so badly tarnished that it screams of a masquerade life.

It reminds me…of me.

All the ways I try to resemble this identity I have been given. Everything must be pretty.

And it’s not.

My life isn’t pretty. My marriage isn’t the model and my parenting has never been perfect. My family is broken and I honestly don’t know if it will ever be okay.

You see, my little sister was labeled with the identity of an addict and she has fought with everything she had to live up to that too. Today she struggles for her life and I am trying to figure out how I can help her. If I can help her. A girl so far gone there seems no hope.

You see, you might think I have a “pretty” face but my life is far from pretty. And I’ve been trying my entire life to live up to an identity that I thought I had.

To be pretty and act pretty and exemplify pretty and it’s a farse. It cannot be done.

We’ve got to stop.

We’ve got to stop comparing and competing and tearing each other down because of the things that make us afraid. The things that remind us of ourselves. Labeling each other with an identity that handicaps us for life.

We’ve got to stop believing what others told us about who we are, and find freedom by taking one step at a time toward the person we desire to be. It’s a long journey but we cannot hope to get there without taking the first small steps.

Pretty, popular, loser, loner, addict, rich girl, narcissist, liar. How do you label people? Who has labeled you?

Every single one of us has something that makes us beautiful. Every single one of us has something that makes us shine.

Who are you? What identity are you trying to live up to — and is it who you want to be?

Decide today that you are not who others say you are. Decide today to see yourself through God’s eyes. Decide today to lose the label and design a life you love.

{And please, if you’re a praying person I ask you to pray for my sister. Her name is Felicia. If I told you the details you wouldn’t believe me. Just know she needs every prayer she can get.}


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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Crystal Glass August 11, 2014, 5:09 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this and all your post. I look forward to anything new you might put out.
    I have also struggled with the label as “pretty”. yes I know I am a pretty girl, but that title comes with a price. People assume you’re not smart, or shallow, or your looks is all you care about. And as a woman,I do like to care of myself but at times (even my own sister) has faulted me for my looks. I don’t feel I should not take care of myself to make others feel better. It makes ME feel good. But On the other side of pretty is a deep, soft hearted, kind and sensitive heart. I am an introvert. I don’t like attention on me. But yet my looks get it. But no one knows how my heart works, or that I am a single mother who struggles to find her place in the world, or who struggles to find love with a man who sees me for who I really am.Life comes easy to the pretty, people think. My life is anything but pretty as well and is full of pain and hurt and I struggle for people to know the girl behind pretty as well. Thank you for this article. And the one on Bitterness. It really helped a friend going through divorce.

    • Tammy August 11, 2014, 8:57 pm

      I couldn’t agree with you any more Crystal. It goes to prove that perception is never reality. We never know what lies beneath the surface of another’s life. Usually it’s the same thing that lies beneath our own: story. And with that is joy and pain. Celebration and loss. Praying for you as you find your place in the world. Know you are not alone. xo

  • Pamela August 11, 2014, 7:46 pm

    I can completely relate to your post. Labels can make us feel trapped and I often wonder who I am. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure who others think I am either. I’ve been labeled “beautiful” my entire life. I’m also “the woman with six children” etc. I’ve been praying and slowly searching who the real me is…and it’s hard to find her. I’ll pray for you and your sister. Great post! <3

    • Tammy August 11, 2014, 8:54 pm

      Thank you Pamela! Praying for you to find the woman beneath as well. xo

  • Robin August 12, 2014, 1:56 am

    Tammy, thank you for this post. This has been a recurring theme in my life lately, and not just in regards to the labels but the why’s of certain things…. Why is it done that way? Who is still telling me it must be that way.. . so I ask myself what I want or how I want to do it….
    we are always growing and learning………
    the term I dislike is “cute”…..don’t call me cute, and please don’t call what I create cute. Cute to me is a non word. Not enough to be beautiful but slightly more than not saying anything at all.
    I will certainly pray for your sister. In my life it is my daughter , and all I can do it pray, seeking the assurance that God will do what needs to be done…it is so very-very hard.

    • Tammy August 12, 2014, 4:54 am

      ‘We are always growing and learning.’ So true. Once we conquer one mountain there is another to climb. Thank you for your prayers for my sister, I pray the Lord finds and directs your precious daughter as well. It’s so hard. I’m glad we’re all in this together. xo

  • sarena August 12, 2014, 3:13 am

    i am gonna pray for her, for you. Tammy I love everything you write, its like you know me. I appreciate your venerability, your courage, your faith to step out and write from your heart. It has so much purpose.

    • Tammy August 12, 2014, 4:51 am

      Thank you so much Sarena. I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you for your prayers for my sister. xo

  • Michelle August 12, 2014, 3:45 am

    I love this article. I felt led to share this with you and instead of questioning why I’m trusting God and going for it. I’m a recovering addict. Struggled with drugs for most of my life. Two years ago I found the Narcotics Anonymous Program and it saved my life. Led me back to God and is showing me continuously how to live life without drugs. There is hope for your sister. She has to want help or it won’t work but if she wants the help it’s there. na.org is the website to go to for meetings all over the world and it will give so much good information for you and your family and your sister. Our message is hope and there is hope for her. I’ll be praying for her and for you.

    • Tammy August 12, 2014, 4:51 am

      Thank you so much Michelle. She is wanting help. It could be our very last chance and so I’m praying God will lead us and her. That she will find Him. Thank you so much for your information and I’m so happy you found a new life. You are strong and courageous and I’m thankful for people like you. Blessings. xo

  • Becca August 12, 2014, 10:56 am

    Tammy, you truly are beautiful. Thank you for sharing and for your honesty. Everyone who reads this will be moved. I am praying for you, and your precious sister.

  • Jas August 12, 2014, 11:15 am

    Tammy thank you for your post today, your words always seem to reach me when I need them most. I downloaded your book and had started reading a few chapters in I had to put it down and what I realise now is why. I need to change and I wasn’t ready to hear what your book had to say. I am ready now however and have started reading with a more open heart and a deeper sense of involvement. I hope this makes sense to you. I will pray for your sister x

    • Tammy August 13, 2014, 6:59 am

      It makes total sense in the most beautiful way. I hope it settles in your heart more deeply and that you hear my heart in the message too. Blessings and thank you for prayers. xo

  • Deena August 13, 2014, 11:54 am

    Wow this made me cry!! But may God always be with you and your family. My life isn’t pretty either, and I too am an addict. I pray for your sister Felicia and thank you for your honesty!! WE NEED TO HEAR IT. To give it to God, and allow him to be with us where it hurts the most.

    • Tammy August 18, 2014, 12:39 am

      Praying for you Deena. xo

  • Steph August 14, 2014, 11:02 am

    Thank You for this post! It spoke to my heart and was exactly what I needed to hear! I will put all my self worth on one person’s negativity at times instead of knowing what God has blessed me with! Thank You!

  • Mary April 7, 2015, 11:32 am

    Tammy,

    Thank you for this article. I, too, have a sister (older) suffering from addiction, and it is challenging beyond comprehension. I hope that your sister is doing OK, and I will keep her in my prayers.

    In terms of the article itself, thank you for encouraging us to challenge our personal labels. I agree with everything you wrote. We are all labeled at a young age, and it immediately sets us up for life and what we can and cannot do. It shapes our insecurities and “what we’re good at.” I hope that others can find solstice in you article to be at peace with simply “being” and not having to live up to expectations and preconceived notions about who we are. We are capable of so much more than we know.

    -Mary

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