It is with great delight I get to introduce you to yet another contributor. Holly has written for us before, and will be sharing her thoughts with us every month. Make her feel welcome, and don’t forget to check out her own blog, Makeshift Wonder.
One night, on a quest for a Milky Way Midnight (also known as manna) after work I stopped at a local CVS. As I browsed the counter for my chocolaty prize, the friendly young man behind the counter noticed my uniform and asked where I worked. I replied I had worked at Chili’s as a server for four years now. Then, struck with the fear that this stranger KNEW this meant I was incapable of something more, I added: “I have a degree, though.”
He smiled and nodded. “So do I.”
I realized, I certainly wasn’t judging HIS competency as a human being based on where he worked or what education he had received. Why must I do this to myself? Why do I feel the need to wear a shirt under my clothing emblazoned with ‘Phony Adult Alert!” that I reveal Superman style every time someone asks me a simple life question? Why do I often get the nagging feeling I’m doing “human” wrong? Life wrong? ME wrong? Really, the t-shirt I should be wearing under all my clothing should read, “Please look past the fact that I lack a sense of legitimacy.”
A quick Google search leads me to believe that I’m not the only one wearing this hidden t-shirt. It seems there is a long standing pandemic of inadequacy, incompetence, and spuriousness. Typing in ‘why do I feel like a phony’ brought a smattering of articles and forums on this very subject. In fact, The ‘Imposter Syndrome’ is an actual diagnosable disorder that makes individuals unable to internalize success. What has gone so wrong within us that we can’t recognize the truth and worth of our capabilities?!
It seems there is always a reason for us to draw a line in the sand, to separate ourselves from another individual. It’s easy to tell ourselves how much more together others are, or how they are more talented or capable. But underneath the super-imposed exterior we’ve placed on them, people have their own set of t-shirts they keep hidden. They say things like, “I really blew it”, “I don’t think I can start over”, and, “What potential are people seeing that I’m not?”
I submit the idea that all of this goes back to forgetting where we started from. The potential God placed in his ‘very good’ creation is brimming and diverse! And it comes in packages we would never dream of being worthy. God’s line-up of all stars wear shirts that read “I have a stu…, stu…, stutter”, “Prostitute”, “Murderer”, and “I was in a whale and all I got was this stupid t-shirt”. God is a believer in the ragtag, tax collector, and thief (even as he dies beside him on a cross). It seems God works the opposite way of us. Instead of hiding the t-shirt, waiting to reveal it when we fail or are found wanting, he starts with the t-shirt and strips it away to reveal the splendor and beauty we’re wearing underneath. The clothing he crafted specifically for us, to make an impact where we are. Maybe I’ll stop for some chocolate tonight. And maybe, when the friendly cashier makes small-talk, I will think about everything that was crafted inside of me, just for me to make my own impact on this world. And just maybe I won’t talk about degrees, and instead I’ll ask how some stranger’s night is going and offer some encouragement. And maybe I’ll look down, and the t-shirt will read “Ask me how I make an impact”.