I connected with Vanessa Luu on Instagram a few months ago. She is a Christian author with three published books, and the host of The You Don't Have to Be Perfect Podcast. A fellow author had previously been a guest on her podcast and she suggested that I sign up to be a guest as well. I asked for more information and after overthinking for several more days, I finally signed up.
Then... I became a nervous wreck! I would have to share about my struggles with perfectionism, my fears and anxieties. I would be vulnerable, exposed, showing a side of me that I normally wouldn't want people to see. I wanted to maintain this image as someone who is capable and competent, when in reality I'm constantly struggling with anxiety and fear. But I had this feeling that I just had to do it. If I backed out, I would lose the opportunity to do something that could help others. I would be selfish not to share my story.
When we did the recording, I was still a nervous wreck. I stumbled over my words, had to rephrase things, and at times, wanted to take back what I had said. When it was finished, I felt proud and relieved. Vanessa made it very easy. She was a great host and made the conversation very casual and flow smoothly. When she shared that the episode had gone live a few days later, I was excited at first, but then I was hit with anxiety again and felt incredibly nervous and embarrassed that what I had shared was now public for anyone to listen! At one point, I even wanted to ask Vanessa to take the episode down. I only shared it in my stories and with a small group of author friends; not too widely, not even with my own family. I was afraid of being judged. (Will people think I'm bragging? Will they think I'm a weirdo for saying THAT? Will THIS make me look weak?) Even after my conversation with Vanessa about not letting the possibility of a few judgy people stop me from doing something, I still couldn't release my hold on my insecurities.
Last week in our women's gathering, we had to randomly pick a word from a box and think about how it applies to us and pray over it. The word I picked out was 'release'. On Sunday, our pastor gave a sermon about the idol of control, and I realised I'd been trying to control others' perception of me. He talked about 'inaction' being one of the ways to feel in control–that's exactly what I'd been doing. Have you ever felt like God is speaking to you? He spoke to me so many times last week and I tried to ignore Him. I've been living in a fantasy of 'if I don't do it, I won't fail' instead of accepting failure as part of the process of learning and growing. I knew in my heart I had to release control, even when it's scary and makes me look weak.
Every time I pray to God asking Him to help me overcome my anxieties and lay my burdens to Him, I end up picking everything back up again after Amen. I couldn't allow myself to release my control over everything. My anxiety over every minute detail plagues my daily activities and routine. I often end up avoiding certain tasks because I didn't want to fail or do badly. After listening to the sermon, I felt so convicted that I began to list the many things I've been trying to control in my life and make perfect: my work schedule; my students' progress; the design, layout and format of my books; how I word my captions and ads; what information I share on social media; the public's perception of me; the way I feel about myself and others; my own and others' opinions about certain issues and topics; my career path; what I read and don't read; the list goes on. I have little control over my own life, let alone what other people think of me. Why was I so concerned or worried about what they think? How many brain cells have I lost stressing over all this? And none of this worrying can change anything. People will think what they think, no matter how hard I try to control things. The only one I should be concerned about is God, and He loves me no matter if I fail or succeed, look like a fool or embarrass myself. These moments will happen and we just have to let them, live through them and move on.
It's time to release my grasp on all of it. I didn't start this author journey so my books and stories would be unread and unknown to the world. And I didn't do this podcast so no one would listen to it. What is the point in doing all of this, if not to share it? This podcast is called 'The You Don't Have to Be Perfect Podcast,' so my story is not unique. I'm sure there are some of you who may be going through the same struggles as I am and need to listen to this story to know you're not alone. I not only share about my struggles, I also share about my grief journey and how it led me to finding faith in God–my testimony.
I am imperfect, I am a little weird, I am a nervous wreck, I am weak, I am a sinner, but I am still loved by God. God meets us in our imperfections and weaknesses, and gives us His reassurance of unconditional love, grace, mercy, hope and peace. If we were already perfect, we would BE God and would not NEED God. It's also in being imperfect, open and vulnerable that we become more relatable to others.
Check out the episode and share your thoughts or personal experience in the comments! I hope you find it relatable in some way. I will try not to freak out!