I was a soon-to-be high school graduate, and with all the talk of past accomplishments and future plans, it was hard not to compare myself to others. All four years of high school, I was very involved. I took many challenging Advanced Placement classes, did lots of electives, and spent endless hours on extracurricular activities. But in spite of all that, I wasn’t being recognized in the same way that many of my peers were.
For example, for each achievement, a graduating senior would receive a form of regalia to wear on graduation day. I automatically felt less-than, because I was comparing myself to my friends, who had a handful of medallions and cords to wear on their robes. While I’d done over four hundred hours of community service, and had been awarded The Congressional Award, my accomplishments were mainly through an outside program and weren’t recognized by my school.
It was embarrassing to acknowledge that I felt vulnerable about something as superficial as my wardrobe for graduation or not going to a name-brand school. But for me, it was the first step toward healing.
Similarly, I wanted to further my education past high school. However, unlike most of my friends, who were going to prestigious universities, I didn’t feel quite ready to go right to a four-year school. I’d decided I would go to a community college, and later, transfer to a university. Though I knew this was the right decision for me, I couldn’t help but feel insecure—like I was the odd one out.
It wasn’t easy to admit that I was struggling, because it was embarrassing to acknowledge that I felt vulnerable about something as superficial as my wardrobe for graduation or not going to a name-brand school. But for me, it was the first step toward healing. Being honest with myself allowed me to see the feelings for what they were, and then deal with them as I’ve learned to do in the Christian Science Sunday School.
I thought about why I’d done the things I’d done in high school. It was never with the intent of stacking my resume or to get certain rewards or honors. I was just passionate about those activities, so I did them. I was passionate about helping my community and wanted to help as much as I could—that’s how I ended up with all those community service hours. I realized that there was real love behind my actions, so I could see how they were God-motivated, since God is Love. And I saw that this was what mattered—being led by God to do good, and expressing God—not whether or not I ever got recognized for it on graduation day.
My worth comes from God.
I also prayed about the insecurities I was feeling about my college decision. I kept coming back to these verses from Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (3:5, 6). I’d seen so many times in the past that I really could trust God, because God is good—universal, infinite good. Whenever I’ve stepped back, stopped with the pros and cons of a decision, and set aside my own desires to completely trust God, the outcome has always been good. And it’s also always been better than anything I could have planned or made happen for myself. Thinking about my college decision this way helped me realize that I could feel peaceful about it and trust that I wouldn’t be missing out on anything.
I came to understand that my worth is not defined by external things like the college I attend or the regalia I wore at graduation. My worth comes from God. Once I looked at my worth in terms of the qualities of God I express—honesty, love, gratitude, strength—I realized that I really can’t lack anything or be less-than. I am whole, because that’s the way God made me.
One year out from this experience, I can say that while I still keep learning lessons about comparisons, I feel more secure in my worth and I wouldn’t change my path for anything. I can see now how God-directed—and completely good—it really is.