I certainly don’t know everything in life, nor do I want to (I’m looking at you, science), but there’s one thing of which I’m absolutely sure.
I want to know people.
When I was a little girl, I was a bit shy. That’s definitely changed now (in fact, I will talk to anyone and everyone and sometimes have to remind myself to shut my mouth at certain times), but one of my aunts used to have to bribe me with grapes to talk to her. She knew that if she offered me grapes, which I love, I would actually speak. She really knew me.
I enjoy being known by people and getting to know them well so that I’m familiar with all of their likes, dislikes, quirks, and things about them that make them the unique individuals they are. I think it’s challenging for us sometimes, though, to let ourselves be known by others, especially people we haven’t known for long periods of time.
In the past, I know there were situations (especially in those awful middle school days—seriously what I consider to be one of the worst eras of life) in which I was afraid to be completely myself. It can be scary to have people know the real you when you’re nervous that you might be judged for being who you are. Have you ever felt that way—hesitant to let your true self show because it might be too different for those around you?
Thankfully, I’ve become comfortable with who I am. I know that I’m very flawed, and some people might even consider me weird (after all, I do carry a sandwich bag of Wheat Thins with me at all times and bust them out at every meal, regardless of where I am), but that’s OK. At least they know the real me.
I was thinking about this a lot last week as I traveled to Utah to visit a friend. When I was on the shuttle from the airport to the rental car place, I started chatting with some of the people also hitching rides, and I asked a few of them what they had in their excessively large bags. They told me they were skis and looked at me like I was silly to ask such a thing, and I made a comment that they could have been poles for pole vaulting (these guys didn’t strike me as track and field guys, but you never know).The guy next to me made a joke about me being afraid that they were weapons, and I told him that if I’m going to travel in a shuttle with a murderer, I’d like to know.
I continued to chat with the older man (Jerry) sitting to my left, and I asked him if he went to UT. He had no idea what I was talking about—apparently UT doesn’t stand for the University of Texas to everyone—so I pointed out that the cooler he was holding was burnt orange and had a longhorn on the front. He told me he bought it because he liked the way it looked, and I then learned that he was actually from Toronto and had a bunch of shrimp in the cooler to take to his family members.
At one point, he looked at me and said “You sure do ask a lot of questions.” I told him that I just really like people and getting to know them and hearing their stories. I thought he might be annoyed with me about that time, but then he said something that surprised me a little: “Well, I appreciate it. It’s better than riding next to someone who pretends like you’re not even there.”
I think that, deep down, most people want to be known by people. Sure, it can be scary in some situations, and you might be afraid that it can steer people away, but the ones who truly care about you are going to accept you for who you are. I used to hesitate in being my complete self with guys I had feelings for because I thought that I wasn’t good enough just as I was. That was a complete lie, and I never intend to live like that again. I am who I am, and if a guy doesn’t love me that way, then he can find someone else who fits his image of the ideal woman.
And, friends, let people know you, because you are enough just as you are, too.
When I first moved to California, I had a number of really tough days of feeling alone and like no one really knew who I am or anything about me. All of my people back in Dallas know me so well, and I know them. But here, everything felt so different, and I questioned whether or not I truly belonged. It’s amazing how quickly your situation can turn around simply because people care enough to know you. My friend Ashley and my friends Kerry and Nick were my first friends out here, and they took time to invest in me. It’s been a little more than six months now, and I’ve found a true community of people who know me well and accept me as I am—and it’s really nice to feel known again.
I had lunch with my sweet friend Janae during my trip, and she’s one of those people who deeply and genuinely cares about others. She listens, and she accepts people for the individuals they are, even when they are complete messes. We’ve all been there, and we all have our storms we battle through at times. Chatting with her made me feel more at peace with myself and where I am in life. She knows me, and she cares for me just like I care for her and the encouraging and brave woman she is. I don’t have everything figured out, and I’m still as single as they come, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Ashley and I are starting a nonprofit organization called Tower318, and our mission is to spark boldness in young women to walk with confidence. We want them to know how valued and loved they are and how much they matter—just as they are. It took me a while to realize that, and Ashley and I hope to be able to share with them and inspire them to live boldly and confidently.
And I hope that you will live the same way.
We are fully known and fully loved by God, and I think it’s important to show others that they are fully known and fully loved by us, too. That’s one reason why I think it’s necessary to make time for people. I know that life can get ridiculously busy, but you make time for the things that you want to make time for in life. You never know just how much those precious minutes or hours you give to others can impact them.
And you never know just how much letting them be fully known by you can spread love like a wildfire.