My Big Fat Personality
by Tara Altay
Our initial introduction is promising. As I lift my hand to shake hers, she reaches around my outstretched arm, and hugs me instead.
Awesome. She’s so inviting. We will definitely hit it off. We are in the same stage of life: ambitious career women, pressing pause to stay at home with the kids for a season.
But the warm climate quickly cools.
Soon I realize all the other women at the week long gathering have more in common. For starters, it’s an international gathering. I am the only one from my home country. Also, within this small group almost everyone is related in some way.
But I’m an extrovert, so these circumstances are usually fun for me.
However, I find myself circling the edges of conversations, listening for keywords and subjects to connect to. If I discern what they are interested in then, maybe, I can relate in some way.
I join activities hoping to make friends. I ask God to show me the good qualities of the women around me. Maybe I can encourage my way in. I serve them sincere compliments based on what I see. Still, I can’t breach the perimeter.
Where is my place? Am I really not friend material?
As the days stretch on I feel more and more invisible. Like the way an image blurs and fades in old photographs, I barely exist.
On a morning run I ask God, “How can I make it through the rest of the week without a friend?” (You know I’m having a rough time if I choose a morning run over breakfast conversation). Throughout the run a picture intrudes my prayers several times. The picture is a reminder of a video my mom sent me a few years ago.
In the video, a black bear and her cubs were resting near the edge of my mom’s property. As my brother approaches to record the bear, she swings her 500 pound (225 kg) body over the fence with ease, like tossing a teddy bear in the air.
I ask God if He’s trying to show me something. Who was the bear? What did the fence represent?
Then I see it. The bear represents my big outgoing personality. The flimsy fence was my insecurity- the desire to be accepted and fit in.
Hop the fence and you’ll be free. I hear God saying in my heart. Be the you I designed.
Our personalities are not a mistake. God didn’t get mixed up in the womb of heaven.
So, don’t edit yourself to manufacture connections with strangers. Don’t tailor yourself to become what you think others are looking for in a friend.
Connect with yourself.
When you catch yourself trying to morph into the perceived expectations of others, ground yourself by asking:
Who am I in this moment?
What do I love about it here?
How do I view the things around me?
What do I want to get out of this experience?
Give your big, bright personality freedom to shine.
Regardless of whether you are extremely introverted, extroverted or somewhere in between, never apologize. Sometimes, God’s voice is described as the sound of many waters. Other times He is a still, small voice. You are created in the image of a multidimensional God to reflect His many-sided beauty. Embrace your uniqueness.
If you are still discovering who you are, take a personality test. Determine your Enneagram type. Discover your spiritual gifts and explore your strengths. Settle into who you are. You are one of a kind.
Sure, we have personality kinks. Past experiences and negative thinking can surface in unsavory behavior. But He promises to infuse the fruits of the spirit in us and through us as we stay connected to Him. John 15:3 and 5 says, “Already, you are clean….”; “abide in me and you will bear much fruit.”
God promises to make all things new in us. And keep on making them new (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are saved in a moment, but complete renewal takes time. Be patient with yourself.
At the same time, don’t hide in a work room waiting to be a finished masterpiece. Take that step. You have something to offer to the world around you right now. Hold His hand, stand up, and radiate exactly who you are.
During the gatherings that week, I didn’t make any new friends. But I don’t regret going. I connected to the friend I have in myself. I’m learning to appreciate my outgoing and intense personality. I am enjoyable and unique like you. God loves and enjoys who we are, so we are free to be ourselves in every circumstance.
Many people will love us as we express our authentic selves. But most of all, we will appreciate and even adore the incredible person housed inside our beautiful skin.
About the Author
Hi, Tara here! Much of my time is spent chasing toddlers and squeaking in some quiet time with my honey. But I also I love helping women discover the fierce warrior inside of her. Visit taraaltay.com for tools and encouragement to help you meet with God forehead to forehead and Unearth Your Awesome.