There will be times in your life where you will feel alone, feel like an outsider. But always know that you are not. And that in our differences is our truest beauty.
There was a poem written to raise money for the Statue of Liberty named “The New Colossus” written by Emma Lazarus. I’ve enjoyed this poem for many years. And I feel as though it is welcome for the lost, for those of us that feel like outsiders.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
“And her name MOTHER OF EXILES.” We are those exiles. Everyone is in some way an exile. We have been exiled from relationships, friends, family, homes, and other parts of life. It makes us feel like outsiders. It makes us feel like something is wrong with us for being different and not being exactly what someone wants or expects. I have a message for those people.
There are going to be people in your life who make you feel like an outsider. People who make you feel like something is wrong with you, make you feel as though it is a shame to be different. But the key is, you are who you are, and that is all you can ever be. In life, we are challenged every day for being a little different from others and it makes us feel like we need to change. Don’t change. Being a little different and weird is powerful. Being yourself is powerful. It gives you control over your life when you let go of what others think of you. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
We yearn to breathe free. Free from the crippling need to change ourselves to make other people be happy. We are who we are as people and if someone cannot accept that, it means they were not meant to be a part of your life. And we have to understand that. “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” I lift my lamp as a welcome to those who have felt lost, felt as though they were not good enough. You are good enough.
Right now, we see a lot of hate, finger pointing, and cruelty in the world. It is easy to get lost and consumed by it. It is easy to harden your heart. And It is easy to feel as though the world is a dark and scary place. If I told you it wasn’t I would be lying. But the world is also beautiful. And part of that beauty lies in our differences. We cannot become consumed by the hate and the need to feel less like an outsider.
It is easy to feel lost amongst a sea of comments that make you feel less than your best. Make you feel like you should be someone you are not. Make you feel empty and alone. I can attest to changing myself to make other people happy. It was hard and miserable. I woke up and looked in the mirror every morning thinking what happened to me? Where did I go? Who is this ghost of a person staring back at me and how to I get from my transparent self to my real self? The solid grounded self I once knew so well. These questions are not easy to answer.
I couldn’t tell you the exact moment I started molding myself to be some other person to feel less of an outsider. It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting to please others that we forget we have to also make ourselves happy. I’m not saying be selfish or unkind to others, I’m saying remember to be true to yourself, because how can true happiness come from being someone you aren’t? It can’t. But at the same time of being true to ourselves and embracing being different, we must also remember not to shun others for being a certain way. And to those I ever made feel awful for being different from me, I deeply and sincerely apologize. We are all different, and in our differences, we may be outsiders but that does not mean we are alone. It simply means we are all unique, and we must learn to embrace our unique qualities.
I challenge those that judge others and pressure people to be something they are not to be more than that. To accept your differences as a blessing rather than a curse. And to accept that being different from each other is what brings us together. To accept that in our differences, our weirdness, we are united.
I challenge those who feel like they need to change to accept who they are as a person. To feel as though they are enough. To wake up and look at yourself honestly and truly and know that you are your best self. I am my best self. And no one will ever take that away from us.
3 years ago, around this time, I made a decision that would completely change my life.
I was a redshirt freshman volleyball player at Long Beach State University and my dreams of making an impact on that program had been crushed. I was not tall enough for my position, my skills were subpar, I was too stiff, I couldn’t relax, my learning curve was too slow: these were all things that my head coach and my negative self talk had continuously repeated to myself.
Who was I kidding? I wasn’t good enough to compete in the West Coast. My mind had been shattered by anxiety and depression, and the confident, kick-ass athlete that I had always been disintegrated into someone I could not recognize. But my will and strength were not completely gone. I still had my Heavenly Father who had never left me alone.
I knew what I had to do to get control of my life and continue my dream of playing Division 1 College Volleyball. I decided to transfer. I knew I had to leave but I had a family in Long Beach. My teammates were my sisters and leaving them would be one of the hardest things I’d ever had to do.
I emailed about 20 mid major programs and went on 5 visits within a two-week span. This was hectic but I knew it would be worth it. When I visited Georgia State, the concrete city that is downtown Atlanta was not a selling point as I was used to Palm trees and sunshine in Southern California. It was an option, but definitely not at the top.
I visited schools in Florida and Northern California, and had plans to visit South Carolina. One night, I heard His voice. God told me that Georgia State was where I would find my home.
I had always wanted volleyball to be the number one reason why I would go to a school and GSU had the worst record out of all the schools I was considering, but He was persistent and for the first time in my life I knew it was Him and I listened.
I will forever remember the night that listening to God changed my life. I transferred to Georgia State and my life changed for the best. I returned to my true self and conquered my depression and anxiety.
Not everything was perfect when I moved to Atlanta, because many things were hard, but God provided me with so many blessings in my new home. I was blessed with a new volleyball family and sisters that I could not imagine my life without, I met the love of my life, and discovered my passion for law and child advocacy.
But the biggest blessing was finding my worth outside of being an athlete. I can almost 100% say that none of this would have happened had I not listened to God.
In His will, He holds all of our dreams and desires. His plan for our lives will always be the better plan.