By Rachel Lastinger, Guest Blogger
I have been home from Ethiopia for two weeks now. In the year and a half that I lived in Ethiopia, I rarely thought about my singleness. Yes, sometimes I would fantasize about meeting some handsome American in the market or bus line and we would strike up conversation, and it would be wonderful. That daydreaming was rare, though. I was content.
Since I’ve been home, things have been different. There are singles everywhere. I have also been spending time with my married friends and recently celebrated another friend’s engagement. I am almost 24 and most of my friends are married or engaged (part of living in my part of the country).
Confession: I’m struggling with my identity as I struggle with being a single, young woman.
I’m not telling you these things because I want to talk to you about singleness and contentment. I’m telling you these things because I want to talk to you about identity. I think singleness is one of the major ways we struggle with our identity, and it’s the most recent way I’ve struggled with it.
Identity: The distinguished character or personality of an individual (Miriam-Webster Dictionary).
Basically, when we place our identity in something, we are placing who we are in something. We are making it what describes us.
I can see a pattern in my life of placing my identity in negative things. Growing up, I placed my identity in the opinions of my friends. What they said about me, I believed was true of me. This didn’t work out well because I didn’t have good friends and they didn’t say nice things about me. Starting in high school, I placed my identity in my academic success. I got my first bad grade on a test and thought my world was crashing down around me. And now, I put my identity in my singleness.
Confession: I am almost 24, and I have never been in a relationship. I have only ever been asked out on one date.
That’s hard for me to admit to people until after they get to know me. I‘m afraid that if people initially know that, they’ll think there’s something wrong with me. I also tend to ask myself if there really might be something wrong with me. Why else would guys not want to date me? The reality is, these are all lies that I’m believing about myself. I let my identity and the way I view and value myself become wrapped up in the fact that I am single and have been single for a long time and that must mean (insert negative thought).
Those are just some of the examples of harmful things we can place our identity in. There’s more, but mostly It's relationship status, our partner, opinions of those around us, success, money, status, and the list goes on. So, where should we place our identity?
I believe we should place our identity in what we know and believe to be true of ourselves, and yes girls, these should all be positive things.
When you start to doubt yourself, start to let your identity be shaped by faulty things around you that will bring you down, you have to back up those lies with truth and remind yourself of what your true identity is. My identity is NOT that I am a single 23 year old who has never dated. My identity is that “I am a strong, independent young woman who is passionate about empowering young girls around her. I am a Masters student striving to make this world a better place. I am a daughter and follower of Christ. I am kind and caring and love people well. My passions are… My skills… My goals are…” For you the list will be different. You are a different person. Your world beliefs are different.
I have mentored girls at my University in Oklahoma and abroad in Ethiopia. In both places, girls struggled with identity, and the struggle looked the same. We have to stop believing lies and start believing what is true about ourselves.
Embrace what you know is true. Cling to what you know is true. Let that be you who are, always. Then when you do fail at something, when you do go through a time of singleness, or when someone around you does say something harmful about you, you won’t doubt and question yourself. You will know the truth. You will know where your identity lies.
So who am I? That’s for me to define and for me to remind myself of all the time and you can do the same.
Let's chat! Who are you? Make a list of some of the most badass, POSITIVE things about yourself! Share some of them with us here!
Rachel is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where she studied Political Science/ International Studies. She now lives in Ethiopia where she works for an organization that invests in Ethiopian university students, mentoring and empowering them. She is a strong advocate for empowering the next generation of women and fighting for their rights, traveling, dance parties, reading, a good cup of tea, and Parks and Recreation.
image via imgbuddy.com