I've often heard people say things like, "I feel so different this year!" or, "I've changed, and I don't know how...." but me? I don't know if I could say I've changed. I think I've always been this way....the same old me. But more than anybody I know - I really wanted to change. Like really, really, really wanted to change.
I felt so boring.
Just Allyson Carter, the one no one could ever, ever remember. The one no one ever noticed. The one who was always asked "Oh....yeah...are you so-and-so's friend?". The one who was always somewhere in the crowd except the in crowd. Little ol' Allyson Carter. Just me.
Not that I ever threw any big pity parties. Nothing like that. If I did it was up in my room while I ate Oreos and gummy worms while tears rolled onto my cheeks giving it all a salty flavor.
But I, Allyson Carter, wanted to be different. I wanted a boyfriend. I wanted to be invited to prom. I wanted people to just be cool and say "Hey Al - how's it going?". I wanted people to want me around. To miss me when I didn't show. I wanted.....to be noticed. I wanted to be different. To change.
Last year, my sophomore year, was my year of, well, depression. Self pity. I hated myself because I was sure nobody loved me. Until I met Mike and Anna - they joined my youth group that year, having moved to my town from Arkansas. Mike, 16, and Anna 19 - she loved to come to group, even though she was more college then high school.
At first I thought that they were stuck up or something, always so into themselves and fine-and-dandy. Until we started talking. There was something so easy going...confident. Real.
And the coolest thing? Mike didn't even like me and would come sit next to me when I was sitting alone. Anna was 19 - me 15, and she would ask to get together. Soon I started to wonder; was it me they liked? Really me? Or were they just trying to be nice, good Christians? One day, during snacks at youth group, Anna was sitting across from me, we were talking about guys, and how they are so unintentionally rude. "Yeah. Honestly, one minute I think a guy likes me, the next I realize they were only having a good day. Besides, no one would like me. No one can even remember my name."
Mike must've been listening with one ear, three seats down from me, Anna was about to comment when he spoke up; "Why would you say that? There's no reason anyone wouldn't like you." I felt uncomfortable - whoa - did he actually just say that?
"Uh...and is there any reason they would like me anymore then the next girl?"
"Al - seriously - why do girls have such low self-images? Just because someone doesn't have a boyfriend doesn't make them a loser. People still notice you."
"Sure......" I wasn't sure what to say to that; was he saying he was noticing me, or commenting on the general public?
"Yeah Al, you've got great qualities - really. You're a cool person." Anna said smiling honestly.
"Uh-huh. That's why no one can remember my name. Why people are always bumping into me and not giving me a second glance. Why I've never ever been asked out on a date or invited to parties besides my closest friends."
Mike's face changed, his eyebrows scrunched together, and his mouth veered off to the right. "Allyson, you're a quiet person. Jerks forget your name - so why should you care if they remember you? And do you seriously want to date? I thought I've heard you say you were waiting a couple years - till after graduation? Guys can tell sometimes when a girl would say yes - we're not that clueless. We notice things Al. Sometimes, it seems like you girls think we're mindless creeps who only care about looks and sex."
Anna and I were quiet.
"Again - why can't you girls just accept yourselves and live? Allyson - you always remember people, you're always inviting people over - talking to the 'nerds', what you say here in youth group during bible study you live out on the school grounds - you're cool. People do notice Al. People notice when they see you care."
I felt tears in my eyes - I blinked a couple times, trying to fight them. I couldn't think of a single word worth saying. He was done - his questioning but confident look gripped me - "Thanks Mike....I...I needed to hear that...."
"Anytime. I think you did. Don't forget it either Al - you are great, you really are, and maybe you should know - you aren't unattractive."
Leave it to guys to be so blunt.
After that, my life changed. It really did.
I feel so much brighter. Mike said that I was being noticed - that people did care about me. And now - it's almost a hppily ever after - but then of course- I've yet to find my Prince Charming, but I think now, I might be able to wait for that date.
And to be honest - people seem to remember my name now - maybe it was just me before. God brought Mike and Anna into my life.
And Mike was right - why do girls have such low self-images? That low self-image is noticed just as much as the one that says "Look at me! I'm Miss Popular! Listen to me!" people do notice.
Mom asked me about my attitude soon after, and dad, and my younger sister Lea - they all noticed something new in my step.
I needed to hear Mike that night, and I've realized, maybe others need to hear Mike's message too.
Because really - not much has changed about me - except that I've realized I don't need to change.
Maybe that's what all of us girls need - to know we're cool - just the way we are. And yes - it's cliche - but cliches are usually the closest to the truth.
God made you special, and He loves you very much!