1 UP

There I was, sitting before my boss with eyes full of tears and a lump in my throat. I was completely overwhelmed, overworked and my personal life was suffering. With a full heart of anxiety, I was ready to throw in the towel for a 9-5pm desk job. But then, He said “it”… and “it” hit me like a ton of bricks on instant replay, but in slow motion. Ouch.

I have never been one that deals with conflict through confrontation. I would rather suffer 1,000 days before even thinking of approaching someone regarding an issue. It is a blessing in some cases, but most of the time it is a curse. Depending on the issue, I usually attempt to resolve it on my end by either changing the situation through multiple approaches or I simply persevere. Unfortunately, I tend to persevere more than I would like to.

It`s about to get real deep and honest for a moment…so check yourself first before we dive in.

If there was a short stick, I was probably the end of it. In school, I was not a stranger to the mean girls or the bullies. In fact, they knew me by name and kept me close, real close. I won`t lie, my braces, glasses and my not so flattering physique did not make for a good defense, and my character, kindness and naïve nature did not win them over either.

I`ve had my cheeks grabbed and twisted (weird, I know…), my thumb broken over a spot on an athletic team, I’ve been cyber bullied, and one year I even had my school yearbook defaced. These are just a few I can vaguely remember, or at least I try not to. My vices? I was too nice. I was too scared. And I was too quiet.

It would have been so easy to fall off, fade away, humbly crawl to my rightfully owned corner of shame each time I faced a not so enjoyable moment. Instead, I prayed to my Heavenly Father, and then rose.

How exactly did I rise? I migrated towards better friends, to sports, and to my studies. I leveled up to higher ground. I engulfed myself in anything I thought I could be even remotely good at. I started joining clubs, trying out for multiple sports teams, and even signed up for a public speaking course. I began deepening my faith and getting more involved with my church. Heck, I even started going to the gym at 4:30am with my father to workout before school. I did what made me happy, what induced growth, what challenged me. And when I felt like giving up and throwing in the towel, my mother would recite this verse from Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It became my life verse.

By my senior year, I was the student council president, the president of the bible study, captain of the track team and a co-anchor on the student announcements. People actually wanted to be my friend instead of make fun of me…huh?

I had reached a point where I had such confidence in who I was, my worth, and what I could accomplish, that I stopped concerning myself with everyone around me. The friends that were by my side (although few, but very dear to me) helped me and encouraged me to reach higher ground, because they too were headed there. As for all those people that bullied me, I am thankful for you. Because without you, I don`t know if I would have ever found my true self.

“I had reached a point where I had such confidence in who I was, my worth, and what I could accomplish, that I stopped concerning myself with everyone around me.”

Don`t think for one second that the fairytale ends there and the happy ending begins, because college was not all sunshine and rainbows. Trust me.

You would assume in college that as a more adult version of ourselves with greater responsibility that we would learn to treat others with respect. Get ready for some disappointment. I unfortunately faced similar treatment in college as I did grade school, but a more “grown up” version of it. It was tiresome, it affected my studies and my social life, and it even affected my athletic career at times. But this time, I was prepared. I had already leveled up once before in my life and I was ready to do it again.

I engulfed myself into my studies, became part of an incredible group of Christian friends, fell into a deep love with powerlifting, and lived daily by the strength of God. To fill my extra time, I worked quite a few jobs, tutored, and even picked up an internship. Each time I was tested and tried, it made for another chance to level up. And still to this day, Philippians 4:13 is tattooed on my side, close to my heart. Exactly where it needs to be.

There I was, staring into the face of my boss with my mouth hanging open as if he was speaking a foreign language.The words he said to me went down like a nasty pill; bitter and unsettling.

I was told that I was showing weakness, that I lacked the ability to persevere, that I was easily overwhelmed. He even mentioned the book I was currently reading called “Grit,” by Angela Duckworth should have explained all of this to me. Talk about needing some damage control on the ego, not to mention my heart. I have never been those things, not ever. I overcame all of that long ago. My head overflowed with memories and feelings from school, from college, from past relationships, job experiences. The sadness and shock was replaced with anger. Black wasn`t even dark enough to describe the fury that began boiling inside me. I walked out of there on fire.

Later that day, while sitting and writing on my laptop, I began to think out loud.

“Can I level up this time? Or have I been living with a false sense of strength?”

The feels were too much to handle so I decided to go take a shower before heading back to work. While undressing I glanced in the mirror. Written in bold, permanent ink on my body was written Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God`s message was as clear as day.

I know who I am, I know what I am worth, and I know what I have to offer.

 

Welcome to the next level.

 

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