Who I Am When I’m Alone
Letter from Christie Peters
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Who am I when I’m alone?
I think about this question a lot. Who am I when I don't mold my personality to whatever social setting I find myself in or bounce myself off a certain group dynamic (which I think is fairly normal by the way). But what about the quiet moments, with no one to impress or get along with, not conscious of my surroundings or appearance, make-up free and pretension-free all at once. When my identity rests solely on my own.
My 20’s have looked a lot different than I expected. I remember scoffing at the idea of becoming a teacher and rolled my eyes at the thought of moving back to Houston -- and yet here I am. It’s been a long list of self-fulfilling prophecies.
I also expected to get married pretty quickly and yet I ended up not dating a whole lot in my 28 years, which often made me feel isolated but as I get older I suspect there are more out there like me. I don’t have a specific reason really -- no deep dark tragedy underpinning my motives (besides the general woundedness that we all carry in our own ways). I suppose some of it can be attributed to some natural shyness and anxiety -- I remember turning bright red when I was asked to homecoming my freshman year of high school and quietly turning down the offer. The thought of spending the entire evening with that sweet boy filled me with a very specific kind of dread that I couldn’t quite explain.
But as I’ve gotten older and more at home with myself (plus a little therapy) my dating habits haven’t really changed. My preference has always been to do my own thing rather than put time and energy into something that doesn’t carry potential. It’s an independent streak that sometimes drove my parents crazy but I think they were secretly proud of my willfulness too. Attention is certainly nice and balms a wounded ego while all my married friends enjoy their new life stage, but it’s a flimsy band aid on a gaping wound of desiring to be fully known and valued individually.
I remember in college how I wasted so much of my life trying to be whatever I thought a guy wanted me to be. Shaping my likes and interests, phrases and phases, all to fit some vague idea I was grasping at thinking it would satisfy whatever mental checklist he had. Lingering and obsessing in my thoughts rather than spending my time in reality. Whatever way I didn’t stack up. I had no sense of self. In some ways,, this tension will always be in our lives -- expectation vs. reality, striving to be in the present while doggedly focused on the future. Meeting a guy and immediately evaluating whether or not I can imagine a future with him, assigning him a role and a category that he frankly never asked for (my apologies to the boys I have mentally dissected and commoditized).
I heard a metaphor once that we are like a pitcher of water being poured into a bowl -- at first we are agitated and splashing around, but given time, we slowly settle down and the water evens out and eventually creates stillness. It’s such a perfect depiction of my 20’s. I was scurrying around in the early years wanting someone to tell me who I should be and what I should do. I eventually realized that college was actually over, I wouldn’t be seeing my friends all the time, and then suddenly they all started getting married off and I was left baffled on the dance floor while “single ladies” played and we were elbowing for bouquet tosses.
For so long I just wanted to deny that I felt alone -- and yet when I finally leaned into this space, I learned how to be a woman who does not need the world to tell her who to be. I’m not impervious to social pressures, but I’ve unclenched my fists around a certain idea I had for my life and the self-assigned rubric I had established for success. Being single isn’t the only way to do this, but it provides a unique opportunity all the same.
As I slowly emptied myself of expectations it created space for God to move me as He sees fit. And boy has it been a ride. I've never felt more awake in my life. Just because I haven’t been given the things I wanted and expected in my 20’s does not mean they can’t be a part of my future. It’s during the unexpected that we discover our true selves. I am not the master of my own destiny and I choose to let God lead me.
We so rarely talk about loneliness. I don’t think anyone really wants to admit they feel it (as if it suggests some type of social incompetency or failure). But we have to speak the unspoken, there’s just too much power that comes from it. When we give voice to our fears hiding in the darkness, we bring them into the light and they lose their grip on us. Perfect truth will obliterate the lies every single time.
In some ways I’m writing the letter that I always wanted to read. I’ve had the sweetest moments when wonderful and brave women have gone before me and shared those hidden stories and thinking “oh praise Jesus I’m not the only one.” Isn’t that an incredible feeling? Hearing others speak their truth has enabled me to deal with mine. These messy, painful and human experiences are what make us strong and wise.
So to my sista out there who feels a little lonely – you are never truly alone my friend and believe me you're not the only one to feel this way. I wish I could look you in the eyes over a cup of coffee and tell you these words. It won’t be forever, and you’re going to peel back layers of your life you might not ever expect. When we learn how to be women that are independent of circumstance then we are truly unstoppable - there is tremendous power in learning to be at home with yourself.
You are writing a story with your life that has never been told before and can never be repeated again.
And oh how the world needs your story, sister.
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Hey y'all! I'm Christie Peters -- a 28 year old, loud and proud native Texan navigating life as a (newly) full time artist and illustrator! I spent the last 5 years working as an art teacher in the public school system and recently switched to full time freelancing. I fell in love with painting as a high school student and my shelves are filled with countless sketchbooks and my walls covered in various art projects. Last year my friend Kassie and I created Every Sacred Sunday, the first NAB Mass journal complete with each Sunday readings, space to take notes and reflect, and original illustrations. Since then my life has taken off in a way that I was never expecting! I always dreamed about being a full time artist but never imagined I would take the leap so early in life. I miss teaching already, but could no longer ignore the truth ringing so loudly in my heart that I had a unique opportunity to develop this dream and take a risk. I have the best family in the whole world and they continually show me the face of Christ and the most adorable little dog Shelby who is getting old but still sassy. This past year I have learned that the more I pray for a heart that seeks Him above all else, the more I step into my identity and realize my worth and value are unshakeable in a world that constantly shifts.
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