Walking Past the Past {31 Days}

I went to put my tray down at the cafeteria table, and she said, "Um, Nicole, you can't sit there. I'm saving that seat. You can sit at the end of the table."

I felt that little sting of rejection, but smiled nicely and moved to the end of the table. This tiny memory among thousands is one of my many memories of feeling left out or ignored. Especially in junior high, I wasn't the cutest or the most fun. I didn't always know how to relate to my peers and often felt awkward or annoying.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and walk those halls and watch 13-year-old Nicole navigate those waters. Was it really as dramatic as I remember it? Were those girls (and boys) really as mean as I thought? Probably not. Yet, those moments of rejection or cutting words towards me still linger.

As an adult, I find that I often still react and retreat when I fell the tiniest hint of rejection or getting left out. Sometimes I struggle with extending myself out because I fear they'll ignore or decline my small attempt to get to know them. Sadly, this fear has definitely impacted my relationships with people.  After a conversation with someone new, I'll often assume that they didn't like me or that I was annoying. As an introvert, I struggle to connect with people quickly or feel like I am expressing myself well. I wonder if they'll take the time to really get to know me.

(this photo was taken by my dear friend, Lindsay, as a photography project  she did while we were in college)

At the same time, I'm tired of using those years of stacked up feelings from over a decade ago as excuses for avoiding going deep with people. I don't think that I have to be a social butterfly or befriend everyone I meet. However, I do need to walk past those fears and insecurities and choose to go beyond them.

I want to let them go. I know it's not a one-time practice; it's daily.

I want to hold onto the truth that God created me--as me. Of course, there are edges that need to be matured (like my overly talkative nature--especially in a small group), but I want to enjoy who God created me to be, not disown it.

He gave me gifts and abilities. He gave me quirks and nuances that only I have. He created me for a purpose. He carefully thought me out and pieced me together. He created me unique and loved. He loves every bit of me.

I want to hold onto these truths because I believe that knowing (and trusting) them will help me grow deeper with others and graciously accept who God created me to be and enjoy the gifts He gives me.

Do any of you have experiences from your past that still bleed into how you respond to present situations? How do you walk forward in those times?

{see all the posts from 31 Days of Letting Go and Holding On}

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