Keep Moving Forward Anyway

I’ll never forget the day when one of my classmate’s grandmother randomly came over to my house to talk to me. I think I was a sophomore in high school at the time and little did she know that she would tell me something that would still resonate with me years later. She sat me down and we probably talked for about an hour. Out of that conversation, the thing I remember most was her telling me that her granddaughter had a group of friends over at her house recently and that she overheard them talking about me. After the group of girls left, she pulled her granddaughter to the side and asked her why they had so many negative things to say about me. She basically told her, “Grandma, I don’t know why they talk about her so bad. She doesn’t mess with anybody or bother anybody. I don’t know why they talk about her like that.”

The grandmother went on to tell me that she felt so many girls had negative things to say about me because they were jealous of me. She told me that no matter what, I couldn’t let what anybody said about me get to me. I had to keep on doing me because, in the end, I would be fine as long I just kept moving forward.

As you could imagine, her words cut me like a dagger. I knew that she meant well and that she was telling me all of this out of care and concern for me, but all my 15 year old mind could focus on was the fact that all those girls were talking about me. I immediately felt bad for myself. I really didn’t bother anybody. I wasn’t the girl stealing people’s boyfriends or starting fights in the hallway after lunch because “some trick” looked at me the wrong way. I was the typical teenager, that engaged in the daily lunch room gossip and would pop off at the mouth every now and then, but for the most part I was nice. I never have considered myself to be really popular. I never really felt like I fit in completely with anyone, but I always tried my hardest to fit in. So it hurt me to my core to know that despite all of my trying to be friendly towards people, that I still got talked about. All I could think about was, “What’s wrong with me?”

“Why don’t people like me?”

“Will I ever fit in or be popular?”

Nearly ten years have passed since that conversation, and as silly as it sounds, sometimes I still find myself asking those same questions. More times then I would like to admit, my inner dialogue sounds like that 15 year old girl wondering why I’m not the most popular or well-liked. Lately, though, I’ve started to really understand what my classmate’s grandmother was really trying to tell me: Keep moving forward anyway. There will be countless times throughout life, especially if you’re really living out your purpose, that you will not be the most popular person in the room. In fact, you will often be the most talked about and the most criticized one in the room.

People will be jealous of your potential. Keep moving forward anyway.

People will envy the fact that you are comfortable with being yourself. Keep moving forward anyway.

People will hate you for fulfilling your purpose. Keep moving forward anyway.

People will try to knock you down as you focus on reaching all of your goals and dreams. Keep moving forward anyway.

I definitely haven’t mastered this concept, but the older I get, the more I understand that often times there will be people who dislike you, discourage you, and distract you and it has nothing to do with you or your self-worth. You can’t control how people react to you and everything that God has placed inside you, but you can control how you let that affect you. I’ve spent so much of my life, getting distracted by the fact that people didn’t like me. I shifted my focus from the purpose that God has given me and instead wasted time and energy trying to people-please to get people to like me. What I’ve learned (the hard way, by the way) is that people who hate you for no reason, will continue you to hate you for no reason. There’s absolutely nothing you can say or do to make someone who is envious of you stop feeling that way. The quicker you can realize that, the less heart ache and pain you’ll go through, and you can spend your time focusing on what God has for you.

At the end of the day, I think it comes down to deciding who you’re going to truly serve. Are you going to serve God or are you going to make people your gods and serve them instead? People-pleasing and vying for popularity are nothing more then putting people in a position where only the Most High belongs. Granted, it’s natural to want to fit in and to want to be liked. It’s very healthy to have good friends you can turn to for love, support and acceptance. However, you have to make the conscious decision to keep God 1st in all things, including your relationships with others. It’s better to ride solo for a while as you take time to focus on your relationship with God and make moves that will truly make you happy, than it is to be surrounded by fake friends and secret haters, who aren’t going to truly like you, no matter what you do. Never let anyone deter or distract you from being the person that God created you be. You were “fearfully and wonderfully made”. You were created to do marvelous, beautiful things. You were created to stand out for Him. It’s your birth right to live life the way you were meant to. Don’t ever let anyone take that from you. No matter how many people talk about you, hate on you, envy you, or other wise dislike you, keep moving forward anyway.

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Hi, My Name Is…

My name is Sarita. Derived from the Hebrew name Sarah. A Spanish name meaning “little princess”. Currently ranked as the 1732nd most popular name for girls.

I absolutely hated my name growing up! I used to cringe every time I heard someone say my name. As a little girl, I used to get angry at my parents for giving me such an unusual name. “Why couldn’t I have been named Brittany or Ashley, like 15 of the other girls in my class?” I would think to myself.

I could have even settled for a name like Crystal or Kesha. But Sarita? What a strange, different, weird name. I hated how my name made me stand out. People would ask me or my mom, in curiosity, what my name meant. They would stumble in pronouncing my name correctly. “Uhh…Sharita.”

“Serena.”

“Shaquita.”

Occasionally I would get the person who would roll their eyes, assuming that my name was some “made-up, ghetto name” because it belonged to a little black girl. Oh, how I hated my name!

Over the years, though, I’ve grown comfortable with and have even grown to love my name. I guess that’s what 23 years of repetitiously being called the same thing will do. The same name that used to make me cringe, now makes me smile when I hear it- especially when someone pronounces it correctly :). I’m okay with having a name that you don’t hear everyday. It’s perfectly okay to have something about me that automatically makes me stand out in a crowd. I’ve learned to embrace the uniqueness of my name and know that my name is beautiful.

I can look back and laugh at how much I used to dislike my own name. Isn’t it funny how we can be ashamed of something about ourselves, that we should be so proud of? How we can let something that should make us hold our heads high, make us hang our heads down in shame instead. Now that I’m older, I know that the reason I disliked my name so much was because I just wanted to fit in and be like everyone else. I couldn’t see the fact that my parents gave me the gift of having a name that would separate me from the rest (or at least the ones with the 1731 more popular names).

Over time, I grew out of hating my name and I learned to embrace it. Sometimes, it takes time to learn to embrace the unique beauty that God has placed in us. Sometimes it takes maturity to learn to love who we are. Sometimes it takes the repetition of realizing that peculiar name or talent or character trait we were given isn’t going anywhere. We have to learn to embrace it and be proud of the fact that it is a part of who we are. It takes time to understand that wanting to fit in is really just wanting to be comfortable, but accepting the things that make you different is accepting the greatness that lies within you. Sometimes it takes months or years or our entire life to see the beauty of being different and set apart from the rest.

Just like my name, there are so many other things about myself that time, maturity, and repetition are going to have to help me learn to fully embrace and accept about myself. I’m not there yet, but I’m fully convinced that in time I’ll learn to grow to fully love and embrace myself the same way I’ve learned to love and embrace my name.