Sometimes I feel like I’m not quite cool enough. Sometimes I feel like I’m just not popular enough. Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in the same way other people do.
Sometimes I feel like there is a group who maybe doesn’t really want me there. Sometimes I wonder why I wasn’t invited. Sometimes I wonder why I wasn’t included. Sometimes I walk up to a CIRCLE OF PEOPLE and I get that awful, sinking feeling like they were just talking about me.
Sometimes I feel like the same 16-year-old girl who didn’t know where to sit in the cafeteria.
Who didn’t belong with the popular girls.
Who didn’t belong with the sporty girls.
Who didn’t belong with the theater girls.
Who didn’t belong with the band girls.
And then I remember this one beautiful truth: even though I may feel like that same, insecure, trying-too-hard, what-is-everyone-else-doing, why-can’t-I-be-like them girl, I’m not. I’m not her anymore.
I still look a little bit like her. I still have some of the same quirks as her, but I’m not her. Thank the good Lord.
I’ve learned too much since then. I’ve GROWN TOO MUCH since then. I’ve cried too many tears since then. I’ve dried too many tears since then. I’ve been through too many hard things and come out still standing upright since then.
I may feel like her from time to time, but I’m not her.
I’m wiser. I’m stronger. I’m better in most ways.
These aren’t wrinkles on my forehead. These are the marks of a girl becoming a CONFIDENT WOMAN. These aren’t stretch marks on my stomach. These are the battle wounds of a constant worrier becoming a freaking warrior.
I know something she didn’t. I know how to make my own table. I know how to do my own thing. I know how to enjoy my own company. I know how to be grateful for my tiny tribe. I know how to be proud of exactly who God created me to be, whether I do it alone or whether I do it with thousands.
I know that sometimes not belonging is the greatest gift of all.
I know that sticking out is sometimes the greatest compliment you could ever be given.
I know that the world won’t change if I’m busy blending into the crowds and the cliques, or constantly changing myself to earn their cheers.
I know that being popular is terribly over-rated.
I know that I am content with who I am, with where I am, and with what I have.
I hope you know that too.
That you aren’t the same girl you used to be. That you don’t have to worry about fitting in anymore. That you don’t have to try so hard anymore.
That you are free to be exactly who God created you to be.
That you don’t have to be everyone’s cup of tea.
That you don’t have to be anything or anyone you don’t want to be.
You do you, friend. You do it with a smile. You do it with love. You do it with all the confidence in the world.
You do it bright, and if it burns other people’s eyes, so be it. Tell them to put on their cheap sunglasses cause it’s about to get light up in here, and then just keep on shining with everything you have. Life’s too short to be dim.
This post originally appeared on AMY WEATHERLY.