This YAV year has been eye-opening in more ways than one. While learning more about the world around me, particularly issues concerning the United States, South Korea, advocacy, and being a co-conspirator, I’ve also been learning more about me. How often do you get a chance to spend time just reflecting on yourself? (A YAV year is a great time for that!)
We all have pasts. Mine isn’t the darkest by far. I grew up in a White, middle-class family. My parents are happily married (and approaching their 25th wedding anniversary) and my family was fortunate enough monetarily that my mom never had to work once I was born. I went to exceptional schools throughout my life, including getting to be a part of the WAVE program and getting to take different classes throughout middle and high school that were way above other children my age. My parents always supported me throughout trying to make decisions about my life, whether it was to be a teacher, to study music at university, or to travel and volunteer in a beautiful country on the other side of the world for a year. I grew up in a wonderful church community at CLPC that always worked hard to foster my knowledge and curiosity of Christianity and granted me life-long friends. I was welcomed so warmly into the SFA Wesley Foundation, where I was granted opportunities for leadership for 4 years. My life has been truly blessed, no matter how you look at it.
Despite all of this and knowing how fortunate I was, there were still problems in my life. I was definitely a weird kid and spent a lot of my childhood listening to other people when they decided I was too much or too weird for them. Once I was old enough to realize that I would always be on the outs, I tried extremely hard to go against the grain. I resisted following any trend to ridiculous points that I know frustrated my parents. I would get angry if anything I did suddenly became mainstream. I ended up remaining friends with some people despite the unhealthy relationships and the fact that the only thing we had in common was wanting to be weird.
In my adulthood, I’ve outgrown some of those things of the past. I am quite fine with following trends around me. I embrace being “normal” at times. I’m still my weird self, but I’d like to hope that I’m healthier than I was when I was younger. I do my best to only surround myself with people who truly love me for who I am and accept me as I am. But having been friends with people who were so unhealthy to me has left its marks.
I grant that my friends and I were all immature when I was allowing them to have power over my life and how I felt about myself. There were things though that should not have happened and have left scars. I had “friends” who would tease me until I cried because they “enjoyed seeing my reactions”. I had “friends” who would be angry at me for days without telling me what was wrong and then would explode all at once without warning about something entirely unrelated. I had “friends” who would push me beyond my limits or boundaries, even when I asked them to stop.
This has changed how I am with my friends, even now, even with new friends who don’t do these things and want to treat me well. I get uncomfortable when people tease me because they say it’s out of love, but that line can still be blurry for me. I “check in” with people all of the time that we’re still okay. I’m always “just checking”. I’m stubborn to a fault because I don’t want to give way to other people’s wishes anymore, even if I know that they’re right or that they want what’s best for me.
I worry on a lot of days, and especially on my days where depression really hits me, that I won’t ever be able to stop these things, that I’ll never feel secure in a relationship with anyone because of the fear of pain and that something will absolutely go wrong. But many of you, my friends and family, go above and beyond to show to me that I can trust people. Just yesterday, one of my Korean friends encouraged me to stop “checking in” and to do my best to trust. I’m trying. To all of those of you who have loved me over the years or are learning even now how to love me while I am still scarred in this way, thank you. Your support and love is what keeps me going.
This is still a journey that I’m traveling. I question everything everyday all of the time. There are still going to be times where my walls will be up, where I will still “check in”. I’m going to make mistakes and I’m going to react in the wrong ways sometimes. But as I learn how to truly let other people in and see this vulnerable person in my shell, hopefully I can learn to trust and love myself as well. Because no matter what, that’s one person who I’m always going to be stuck with, and I truly do want to learn how to love myself as God created me. Perhaps when I can do that, the rest of the world will follow suit, and I can drop these chains. I don’t really know. But I’m not going to give up and I’m not going to surrender to the things that have held me back for so long. I’m going to fight, I’m going to change, and I’m going to love. I hope you can do the same ❤️
“Oh am I talking too loud? Sometimes I get overexcited, shoot off at the mouth, I’ve never had a group of friends before, I promise that I’ll make y’all proud” -“My Shot”, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: An American Musical
Leslie: “It’s not cool. It’s trespassing, and that is breaking the rules. Cool people make the rules. They don’t break the rules. And if those kids want you to break the rules then they’re not really your friends.”
April: “Whoa, who are you even talking about?” -“Parks and Recreation”
“Your quiet support means the world to me, as well as your tacit endorsement of all my behaviors.” -Leslie Knope, “Parks and Recreation”
“Scott, just listen to me. You’re not no one. Scott, you’re my best friend, okay, and I need you.” -Stiles, “Teen Wolf”
“You’ve got a choice to make and your mind is what’s at stake
So before we build this love please believe that you’re good enough
You don’t have to believe me
But you sure better believe me when I tell you you’re due for love” -“You Don’t Have to Believe Me”, Eric Hutchinson