Yesterday a friend made a comment to me that absolutely revolutionized the way I think about myself. She pulled me into a conference room because she needed someone to talk through a difficult situation with her. After a hug, some tears and a few distractions (namely regaling her with stories of my love life), she smiled at me and said I was the one she wanted to talk to because “I knew you’d make me laugh.”
I was shocked. My friend didn’t know it at the time, but her statement was a zinger, straight to my heart. But a good zinger. She thought I would make her laugh? She thinks I’m funny? And that’s why I was the one she sought out to comfort her?
My whole life, I have been the one friends come to when they needed a good listener. Throughout grade school and into adult life, I have heard countless stories about young girls’ insecurities, college kids’ fears of the future, ramifications of parents’ divorces, breakup heartaches, anxiety over major life decisions and struggles with suicidal thoughts.
I like hearing people’s stories, even the hard parts – especially the hard parts, because that is where much of life is lived, and it is in the painful seasons of life that we learn the most about who we are, what we value and what really matters in this life. The dark nights of the soul are when our perspective is reset and our priorities are righted. I love being a part of that process because it is when I sense God the most. I am nearest to Him in the valleys of life, whether they are my own or someone else’s.
I always thought people were drawn to me in those times because they know I’ve lived it; I know the valleys of life, and I can relate to depressive thoughts. I thought people came to me because I am authentic and approachable; I am a good listener. I figured my presence was sought out because I am wise and serious and dependable; stable and grounded and not afraid of the weightiness of heavy situations.
So my friend’s comment to me, startling as it was, reminded me of a statement Bryan made to me recently: “You bring so much to the table. You have so much to offer the world… but it’s not the things you think. The things that are really your strengths are not the things you think of as your strengths.”
Could it be that people come to me because I’m funny? I put them at ease; distract them; make them laugh? I don’t think of myself as funny. Or even very fun. But I want to be; I’ve always wanted to be “the fun one”. In fact, one of my greatest insecurities has always been that I’m too serious and melancholy. Yes, I’m intelligent and wise beyond my years, but oh how I have longed to be the bubbly, happy-go-lucky, sunshiny, fun girl.
What would it look like if I started to believe that I AM that girl?
People at church think I’m a social butterfly. Dad says I’m a great storyteller. Mom frequently laughs so hard that she cries when she talks to me on the phone. My best friend Ashley tells me all the time that I’m hilarious. This colleague wanted to talk to me about her difficult situation because she knew I’d make her laugh. And I did.
I’ve always known that I can be fun (and funny) at times, but I don’t think of myself as a fun person. My self identity – the narrative I tell myself about who I am – is that I am the serious, melancholy artist and misunderstood genius. And I don’t know why that is. Because I am an infathomably complex young woman with more facets than even I realize.
I AM the fun-loving, adventurous, hilarious friend with a zeal for life. And I hope 2015 is the year that I own that fact.