May 25, 2024

Self-expression, magnified by social media, is constantly on the minds of the younger generation. We are taught in school and online to think about who we are and, more importantly, who we want the world to see. Many of us complain of stress induced by overthinking — but how can you not when everything you post, every outfit you wear, every friend you do or do not associate with — says something about you? In the frenzy to help us identify who we are as soon as possible, we can seek external sources to tell us the truth, to help us see past our own biases. Confused? Take the BuzzFeed quiz and discover why your soul most closely resembles an iced vanilla matcha. Need career advice? Consult your zodiac sign, your numerology chart, your MBTI, etc… If you don’t like the answers, you can create a new persona and even a new reality through positive-thinking exercises like manifesting. In less than five minutes, you are now ready to reach your fullest potential and crush it at the game of life. 

 I think there is a great tie between this attempt to find out who we are and the need for perfection. Perfectionism is the need to control things. It has been stereotyped in our culture and often incorrectly labeled as OCD, but in reality, everyone struggles with perfectionism to some degree. Maybe you are not an “I-need-to-have-a-4.0” perfectionist, but maybe you are the “I need to have my expertly crafted playlist going when I workout” type or the “I need to beat this level of COD’” type. We all have some area of our lives that we need control over, big or small. It is a way of giving our fragile little human selves a blanket of protection against the unknown — because let’s face it, everything is unknown. Whether or not we take our next breath is unknown. So why not take every quiz we can to know who we are? Why not put together that playlist so that we know something is concrete? Why not take advantage of everything we can control and control it? 

As comforting as doing this can be, it is important to remember that uncertainty plays a big role in life’s beauty. The unknown is not inherently bad, it is what keeps us looking for and trusting in something greater than ourselves. Life is about growth, but it is nearly impossible to grow if we do not allow ourselves to fail. If we constantly avoid activities, conversations or experiences because there is risk involved, that, regardless of the magnitude, requires us to be braver and bolder and step outside our comfort zones for a quick second, we will lose out on all the world has to offer. How will we enjoy the refreshing comfort of drizzling rain if we are too busy running through it or staying inside altogether? Or, in better words, famed poet and musician Leonard Cohen once said, “There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”

It is good to be prepared. It is good to be educated about as much as possible, including ourselves. It is good to plan for our futures, our days and our goals. But we should always remember that only one person truly knows what we need: God. I mean, most of us can’t even decide what we are hungry for; why are we pretending to know what we want out of our existence? 

If we are able to set aside our earthly egos and offer up these expectations of ourselves, our futures, and our plans to him, he will make sure that everything actually goes perfectly, and not just in a materialistic, shallow sense, but in a divine sense.

I don’t want to wake up in my old age and think, “Thank goodness I achieved everything on my checklist. What a life lived.” I want to wake up and think, “Everything makes perfect sense. My life was like a jumbled-up puzzle that I could hardly make out for the longest time. At times, it didn’t even feel like a puzzle, it just felt like random shards of paper. But now, because I trusted the instincts God gave me and his plans ultimately over mine, I can see somehow every piece lined up perfectly and made a beautiful portrait of who I truly am.” 

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